Volunteers as mediators in finland challenges and advantages


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Volunteers as mediators in Finland challenges and advantages 4.12.2013
Network of Development Plan for Reducing Violence for Years 2010–2014 -seminar
Ministry of Justice, Estonia, Tallinn
Aune Flinck, PhD, Adjunct professor, Development manager

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Volunteers as mediators in finland challenges and advantages

  1. 1. Volunteers as mediators in Finland – challenges and advantages Network of Development Plan for Reducing Violence for Years 2010–2014 -seminar Ministry of Justice, Estonia, Tallinn 4.12.2013 Aune Flinck, PhD, Adjunct professor, Development manager 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 1
  2. 2. Voluntary mediators • In Finland mediation is strongly based on the work of voluntary mediators. • In 2012, mediation in criminal and civil cases was handled by a total of 1279 mediators, who have received appropriate training. In addition, there were 213 mediators in a reserve. • Person in charge of mediation services and mediation advisors may act as mediator, too, when necessary. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 2
  3. 3. Qualifications and training • Qualifications and training of mediators are based on the Recommendation No. R (99)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member States concerning mediation in penal matters: – Mediators should be recruited from all sections of society and should generally possess good understanding of local cultures and communities. – Mediators should be able to demonstrate sound judgment and interpersonal skills necessary to mediation. – Mediators should receive initial training before taking up mediation duties as well as in-service training. Their training should aim at providing for a high level of competence, taking into account conflict resolution skills, the specific requirements of working with victims and offenders and basic knowledge of the criminal justice system. Educational background may be e.g.studies on legal science, social science or social work. They may have experiences of working in civic organisations and encountering people in different situations in life. (Act Law Comittee ). 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 3
  4. 4. Qualifications and training • Person in charge of mediation services and mediation advisors are responsible for training the mediators under a national training programme, supervision and monitoring the volunteers. • They follow the mediation process, agreements and reports on the mediation process, customer feedback and mediators’ self-evaluation and peer volunteer’s evaluation. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 4
  5. 5. Qualifications and training Mediators must be suitable for the task on the basis of his/her experience and personal characteristics (Act 1015/2005, 10 §) and may not be disqualified in the manner referred to in the Administrative Procedure Act (434/2003). Mediators, who assist the parties in the negotiations, have received special training and they work under obligation to observe secrecy, under the supervision, guidance and support of the professional mediation staff, too. Mediators must be active to express their needs for quidance, ask questions, and accept advice, instructions and supervision. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 5
  6. 6. Mediators’ tasks (Act1015/2005) • to arrange mediation meetings between the parties; mediators may also arrange mediation meetings with one party in the absence of other parties, provided that all parties agree to this; • to conduct the mediation without bias and respecting all parties; • to help the parties to find mutually satisfactory solutions concerning the crime in order to redress the mental and material harm the victim has suffered because of the crime; • to give the parties information on available legal assistance and other services; • to draw up a document on the agreement reached by the parties in the mediation process and verify it with a signature; and • after mediation, submit a report on the mediation process to the mediation office. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 6
  7. 7. • Mediators must not testify about anything they have learnt in their duties concerning a mediation case unless particularly weighty reasons require the questioning of a mediator (1015/2005 21 §). • The provisions of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999) apply to the publicity of documents held by mediators or mediation offices and to the confidentiality obligation of mediation office personnel or other persons participating in the handling of mediation cases. • Notwithstanding provisions of section 14 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, mediation offices shall decide on access to information contained in documents that are held by the mediator or the mediation office. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 7
  8. 8. Mediator’s role • The officials in mediation prepare the case: e.g. they asses whether the case is eligible for mediation and ensure that the conditions for mediation are fulfilled. If there are no conditions the case will be returned to the referring authority or parties. • If mediation is initiated, the mediation officials nominate voluntary mediators (usually two) for the case. • Mediators contact the parties and arrange the meetings with the parties. Mediators act as facilitators, they don’t solve disagreements between the parties but help the parties to solve them on their own. Neither they take a stand on or resolve the issue of guilt. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 8
  9. 9. Mediator’s role • The parties are active in the discussions. The mediators' task is to ascertain that the mediation outcome is a joint decision of the parties involved. • Mediators must also evaluate, whether parties understand what kind of agreement they are doing and are they aware of how an agreement oblige them. • If mediator suspects that everything is not ok with the agreement, he is obliged to evaluate if the preconditions of the mediation are fulllfilled and if the parties understand on what they are signing the agreement. • If the parties reach an agreement, the mediators help them to draw up the agreement. The parties sign and the mediators verify the agreement with their signature. An agreement monitoring may by arranged. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 9
  10. 10. Challenges • When recruting the mediatiors important to take into account: idea of man, motivation, human relations skills, and skills to act with people in different situations. • The motive to act as a mediator may not be to solve his/her own problems a danger that a mediator take charge of parties lifes and tries to control parties, their way of life and their solutions. Mediation takes place without audience – how to supervise, ensure consistent practices and control their work? • Mediatior’s own life should be in balance, they should be quick-witted, they need good communication skills, self-knowledge, sensitivity, confidenliality, and ethical understanding. • Strive for ensure that those to apply for a mediator has not untreated traumatizing or violent behaviour or any difficult conflicts in his own life. • Potential criminal background is an essential information that will be discussed with an applier. • Excerpt of criminal background can not be demanded neither a security clearance can not be done. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 10
  11. 11. Challenges • Voluntary mediators are not under contract or service to mediation office, but work under professional secrecy – responsibility of a mediator for the legality of his/her actions. • Mediators may not take bribes, break official secrets (Penal Code Chapter 40 11 §, item 5). • There are stipulations on the action of mediators; the content, quality and ways to work. They have to remember their role as facilitator and not to make decisions in place of parties. • They have to take care of the legal protection of the parties and work impartially. • The personality, professional qualifications, empathy skills and objectivitys are essential parts of the mediator’s know-how, however they need supervision of work, possibility to consultate specialists , support to cope with emotional load and stress. • Mediators should be ready to self- and peer-evaluation and receive feed-back. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 11
  12. 12. Challenges • Varying backgrounds – advantage or challenge? • Problematic cases: e.g. domestic violence, underaged, children and the youth as parties. • Recruiting in the future – are young people interested in voluntary work without salary or economic benefit? • How to maintain sufficient konwledge and skills? 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 12
  13. 13. Advantages • Voluntary mediators are working of benefit of the parties and the community. • They are well-motivated an involved, work of their own interest, voluntarily and promoting interpersonal relationships, communication and readiness to mediate • Volunteers give their multiprofessional know-how and with their input develop mediation services • Their work enabels the view of community – mediators work with people, not for them. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 13
  14. 14. Advantages • Mediators are not bureaucrats but general, co-ordinate, peer citizens, representatives of their own community -> low-treshold services. • Mediators may make child welfare report when needed. • Voluntary mediators are reimbursed for expenses incurred in the mediation process. The state has confirmed and National Board of Taxes has approved the allovance. 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 14
  15. 15. Thank you 12.12.2013 Aune Flinck 15