Faculty of Law

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2014



This unit will offer experienced family and child protection lawyers, family dispute resolution practitioners, child protection workers, policy makers and those generally interested in dispute resolution alike a grasp of the principles of the innovative field of non-adversarial justice and a comprehensive framework for analysing the appropriateness and integrity of existing non-adversarial practices in family and child protection law. It will assist students to position themselves at the forefront of law reform through sharpening their policy analysis skills and providing them with a structure for predicting the future development of practices in the family law and child protection fields.
This unit will examine and critically assess the range of non-adversarial practices which are central to Australian and international family law systems. It approaches the study of family and child protection law by focusing on forms of conflict management, dispute prevention and dispute resolution employed in those fields. In particular the subject will explore the more recent developments in family dispute resolution processes in Australia and overseas. These practices will be examined from the perspective of 'non-adversarial justice', a cutting edge framework developed to explore the common themes and links between disparate practices developed in reaction to the adversarial system in a variety of settings within the justice system.


Upon completion of this unit, students should:

  1. be able to critically analyse the nature of the existing family law and child protection systems, how adversarial they are in nature, including their benefits and pitfalls
  2. understand the nature of non-adversarial justice, the theories behind the movement and the reasons for the perceived need for non-adversarial processes
  3. understand theories of interpersonal conflict, how disputes arise, conflict management and dispute prevention
  4. understand and be able to explain the theoretical underpinnings and the nature of a range of non adversarial processes in family law and child protection
  5. be able to critically analyse each of the non-adversarial processes taught for their various strengths and weaknesses and be able to identify which non-adversarial processes may or may not be appropriate in particular cases
  6. understand and evaluate the place of non adversarial processes within the family law and child protection systems
  7. be able to appreciate the complexities of the relationship between law and non-adversarial processes
  8. be able to explain how family and children's courts can apply principles of non-adversarial justice
  9. understand how family and child protection lawyers can and do work with non-adversarial processes and appreciate the role that lawyers can play in directing clients towards non-adversarial processes in appropriate cases
  10. understand and be able to critically comment on appropriate ethical standards of conduct for of lawyers, dispute resolution practitioners and other professionals working with non-adversarial processes in the family and child protection context
  11. develop skills in critical analysis of legal processes including making recommendations for change or law reform.


Class Participation: 10%
Research Paper (6,750 words): 90%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)