A renewed ethos and strategic thrust of setting and reviewing mediation standards.
This was the theme and focus at the organisation’s recent Townhall meeting held on 3 February 2023. The event took on a hybrid format to enable overseas mediators and those who were not able to attend the meeting in person to join the online session.
In his presentation, SIMI Executive Director, Alvin Sim, highlighted that SIMI wanted to renew its focus on building a mark of quality and developing professional practice standards amongst mediators and mediation training and service providers. This would contribute towards generating trust among users of mediation and encouraging greater use of mediation as a dispute resolution platform.
How was this ethos and strategic thrust translated into SIMI’s activities? Alvin explained that SIMI would need to be involved in setting benchmarks for the industry; establishing systems to implement, monitor, adjust and audit these benchmarks; as well as harnessing communication and advocacy to explain the work in professional practice standards.
On setting benchmarks for the industry, there were two initiatives :
- Developing the SIMI Competency Framework: A focus group study was convened in March 2022 involving mediators and other stakeholders in the industry. Through extensive discussions, a list of 22 competencies were identified as essential skills and behaviours which professional mediators must possess. The competencies fell into four main areas of Mediation Knowledge & Process Management, Relationship Management, Mediation Content Management and Mediator Self Management. From this exercise, SIMI planned to further consult with SIMI-accredited training providers (i.e. its RTPs) to explore how training in these competencies could be included in their existing training programmes.
- A review of the SIMI Code of Conduct, which was first established in 2017. The aim was to provide greater guidance to mediators on professional conduct based on the principles and core values of mediation, and to eventually publicise a mediator’s responsibilities before, during, and after a mediation. This would ensure transparency in how mediators conduct themselves and inspire trust in the mediation process. SIMI had invited feedback from all SIMI mediators; this was being reviewed and considered by the SIMI team.
In the areas of advocacy and outreach, SIMI was already exploring collaborations with the business community to promote the use of commercial mediation, particularly in cross-border disputes. To support the professional development of its accredited mediators, SIMI’s mentorship programme was being re-booted for Level 1 mediators. This was a small-scale pilot programme with a focus on commercial mediation. The SIMI team would monitor the outcome of the programme to determine if future mentorship programmes could be expanded to include more mediators.
The SIMI team will continue to work with its accredited mediators and partners to continue to uplift standards in mediation and to enhance the professionalism of the mediation industry.