What is the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria?
The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is a free, confidential dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government. The DSCV provides dispute resolution advice, conflict coaching, mediation, and mediation training.
Using DSCV services to resolve your dispute is a cheaper and simpler alternative to taking civil disputes through the courts.
DSCV offer assistance for resolving a wide range of matters:
- Common neighbourhood disputes involving fences, trees, animals, noise and drainage
- Disputes about inappropriate behaviour, including bullying, harassment and abuse
- Interpersonal workplace disputes
- Disputes within committees, clubs and incorporated associations
- Civil disputes involving matters under $40,000 and other matters otherwise referred by the Magistrates' Court (depending on the court location)
- Personal Safety Intervention Order matters referred by the Magistrates' Court
- Interpersonal disputes involving technology such as Facebook
What types of dispute does DSCV not deal with?
- Family Violence
- Where a family law matter is before the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates' Court
- Matters involving parenting arrangements
- Matters involving ongoing violence and/or criminal charges
What will DSCV staff do for me?
DSCV staff are trained to listen to your concerns and help you to clarify your issues. Staff will be able to suggest options, strategies and negotiation techniques which may assist you in resolving your dispute. They will also be able to refer you to a range of agencies that may be more appropriate for your matter if DSCV cannot assist.
If you would like to arrange a mediation session, a DAO can write to the other person/people involved in the dispute and invite them to mediation.
The DAO will then have a discussion with the other person and if that person accepts the invitation, the DAO will organise a mediation session at a time suitable for all parties. You will be given assistance to prepare for the mediation.
Not all disputes are suitable for mediation, so a DAO will ask you a number of questions to assist them in assessing the matter for suitability for mediation.
Can DSCV staff advocate for me or fix my issues themselves?
No, DSCV staff are neutral in the matter and assist all people involved equally. They are not there to represent you or to advocate on your behalf.
Will DSCV staff make a decision?
No, they can only assist you to resolve the dispute yourself. Staff members do not determine who is right or wrong and what the outcome of the matter should be.
Are my discussions with the DSCV confidential?
Yes, both yours and the other person’s discussions are confidential. Issues that you raise will only be discussed with the other person if you agree. The Privacy & Data Protection Act 2014 binds DSCV employees, and all information provided to them will be managed in accordance with the information privacy principles pursuant to that Act.
Additionally, agreements reached at mediation and the discussions you have with staff beforehand are protected under the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958, section 21M.
Both your details and those of the other person are confidential and cannot be disclosed unless consent is provided.
What can DSCV staff investigate on my behalf?
DSCV staff do not have any investigative or enforcement powers. Accordingly, DSCV does not provide any location/site assessment services and they cannot tell the person you are in dispute with to do anything.
How does the DSCV contact the other party for mediation?
The DSCV will send a letter with a Department of Justice & Regulation letterhead requesting that the person call the centre to discuss the issue further. You will need to provide the other party's postal address so the letter can be sent.
Will the assessment officer who looks after my case be the mediator?
DSCV staff are all accredited mediators but it is not usual practice for the assessment officer to act as the mediator in your matter. Their primary role is to prepare everyone for mediation and make all necessary arrangements for the mediation to take place.
Can DSCV staff give me legal advice?
No, DSCV staff can give you some advice about a range of topics but they are not legal practitioners. Any advice they provide is of a general nature only and should not be considered legal advice. DSCV staff can however provide you with an appropriate referral to contacts for legal advice. You might also like to look in our Useful Links page.