About dispute resolution
The Commission helps people resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification, and victimisation. Our dispute resolution service is free, impartial, confidential, and timely. We use a process called conciliation to help both sides discuss what happened, understand the impact it had and find an outcome that they can agree on.
What is dispute resolution?
Dispute resolution is a voluntary service that tries to bring both sides together to find an outcome that they can agree on.
Our dispute resolution service aims to help participants (or parties) resolve their disputes as quickly as possible. To do this, we use an informal process called conciliation.
Our dispute resolution service is a simple, flexible and free alternative to taking a complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Our dispute resolution service is available when a person thinks they have been:
- discriminated against (which includes bullying you because of a protected characteristic)
- sexually harassed
- vilified because of your race or religion
For us to provide our dispute resolution service, the incident or behaviour needs to have happened in Victoria. The one exception to this is racial or religious vilification, which does not need to happen in Victoria, but one of the participants involved must be a resident of Victoria.
When responding to complaints, we follow two of Victoria’s human rights laws:
What is conciliation?
Conciliation is a process in which a Commission staff member called a conciliator helps the participants explore ways and options to resolve the dispute or issue.
As part of conciliation, the Commission can conduct a conciliation conference. This is an informal meeting of the participants held by phone, video or in person (subject to COVID-19 restrictions). If it suits the participants, conciliation can be done without a conference or meeting, with the conciliator sharing information between the participants.
Conciliations are conducted in a way that is respectful, safe and supportive to everyone involved.
Our conciliators take a flexible approach to meet different needs of different members of the Victorian Community.
What disputes does the Commission resolve?
What we don’t do
- Complaints about human rights breaches under the Human Rights Charter
- Assault and other crimes
If we cannot help resolve a complaint, we may give a referral to a different organisation that can.
What is the Commission's dispute resolution process?
We use a process called conciliation, which helps the participants to agree on a resolution. The process is flexible and will be designed around the needs of the participants. In most instances it will involve the conciliator bringing the participants together in person, by video or phone to discuss the issues. Other times our conciliators might share information between the participants without a meeting taking place.
Our conciliators use strategies to address any disadvantage experienced by a party in the process and make sure that the process used is tailored to the needs of the parties to keep them safe.
Our conciliators cannot make decisions or determinations about complaints as they are an impartial third party during the conciliation process. This means they cannot take sides. Instead, their role is to:
- allow people to state their point of view,
- discuss the issues of the dispute,
- consider different options to agree to a resolution and
- provide information about possible terms of settlement.
The Commission resolves most complaints within 6 months, but some complaints will be fast-tracked if they require urgent action, for example: if someone is about to lose their job.
What happens when you make a complaint?
What happens when a complaint is made against me?
When a complaint is made against you, a conciliator will contact you to tell you about the complaint and explain how can we help you and the complainant (the person who made the complaint) potentially resolve the matter in a timely, fair, cost-effective way.
Read more on how we can help here:
What kind of service can I expect from the Commission?
The Commission is committed to provide and maintain a dispute resolution service that is timely, impartial, accessible, accountable, rigorous, creative, and empathetic.
- treat each complaint carefully and creatively to facilitate the best possible outcome for all participants;
- attempt early engagement with parties to explore the opportunities for resolution and to address any concerns or needs the parties may have;
- keep the participants informed about the progress of the complaint;
- provide clear and accurate information and make decisions consistent with the laws that govern the Commission;
- use a confidential and impartial approach to keep in regular contact with the parties throughout the process;
- offer flexible approaches to dispute resolution, including face to face meetings, teleconferencing, videoconferencing, shuttle negotiations and travel to different locations where possible. This is to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all participants;
- provide flexibility, support and assistance throughout the dispute resolution service including appropriate arrangements for people with disabilities, special needs or cultural requirements;
- treat you with respect and courtesy;
- ensure our dispute resolution staff are nationally accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution specialists who undergo ongoing professional development to maintain service excellence and best practice;
- collect and store your information on a secure and confidential digitalised data base system; and
- take your feedback seriously and use it to evaluate and continuously improve our service delivery.
How can you help
- Treat staff and other participants in the process with respect and courtesy;
- respond to our requests for information in a timely manner and as accurately as possible;
- keep us informed about any changes to your circumstances or contact details;
- keep appointments or give sufficient notice if you cannot attend;
- let us know if you need assistance throughout the process, e.g. special access to the building, hearing loop, an interpreter.
- Collaborate with the conciliator and listen to their advice on our process, its benefits and its limitations.
- Provide us with your feedback on the process so we continuously improve our services.