What to expect

What is Conciliation?

Conciliation helps resolve disputes by sharing information, identifying issues in disputes, discussing them and trying to reach an agreement. It is fair, informal and quick and is a free service.

Under Guidelines set by the Minister for Workcover, Conciliation should:

  • assist the parties to achieve durable resolutions and agreements wherever possible;
  • be even handed and fair, and address matters on their merits;
  • maximise flexibility and informality;
  • facilitate early return to work opportunities;
  • enhance on-going worker/employer employment relationships;
  • be prompt and timely in the conduct of conciliation processes and in dealings with the parties;
  • reduce cost implications for the parties and the scheme and ensure that matters do not unnecessarily proceed to the Courts.

The process of Conciliation is conducted by independent Conciliation Officers, who work under the Minister's Guidelines, a Code of Conduct, Protocols and a Service Charter developed by the Conciliation Service.

Most workers compensation disputes are resolved through Conciliation, rather than court action.

Role of Conciliation Officer

The role of a Conciliation Officer is to help the parties to resolve a dispute. He or she will do this by asking questions designed to help exchange information, develop and examine options for resolution and reach and record an outcome.

A Conciliation Officer:

  • understands the Worker's Compensation system and how it relates to the interests of workers, employers, VWA Agents and Self-Insurers.
  • ensures that all parties have a fair say at conference, and will encourage them to listen to other points of view and to search for ways to reach agreement.
  • helps the parties to discuss the issues in dispute by asking questions designed to help exchange information; develop and examine options for resolution; and record the outcome.
  • does not judge or decide the merits of a case; they help the parties to find a satisfactory outcome to their dispute.
  • has to be satisfied that the person making the claim has taken all reasonable steps to settle the dispute through conciliation before the matter can be taken to court.
  • is supported in their duties by administrative staff who assist in identifying relevant medical and other information that you can provide, and exchanging information between the parties.

Conference duration

Conciliation Conferences are scheduled to run for 90 minutes. Depending on the details of the dispute and the issues involved, conferences may finish earlier than 90 minutes and others may require more time.

During the Conciliation conference

The Conciliation Officer will:

  • Explain how the conference will proceed and set out some ground rules for the meeting to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to have their say.
  • Manage who is included in the conference room to ensure fair discussion. You will be able to give your views, and the Conciliation Officer may also ask any assistant in the meeting to add their views.
  • Clarify the relevant issues in dispute.
  • Listen to all parties points of view
  • Remain impartial, but will ask questions, realistically examine options for resolution, make sure you understand the views of others, make suggestions and help you to reach a fair agreement where possible.
  • Ensure that relevant and appropriate reports and documentation are tabled and discussed so that everyone understands their contents.
  • Will talk with people in private and confidential meetings so that you all have the chance to talk about anything which you may feel uncomfortable about discussing openly, and to allow you to discuss possible solutions.

You should actively take part by:

  • Stating your own views about the dispute as clearly and succinctly as possible;
  • Requesting information if you are unclear on any issue;
  • Listening to other points of view;
  • Suggest and consider options for resolving the dispute;
  • Helping to reach a final agreement;

Location of conference

The ACCS holds conferences in the Melbourne CBD as well as at a number of regional centres throughout Victoria.