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Policy Bulletin 2021 / 5 (Early Resolution Assistance – Prefiling Adoption Mediation Pilot)

7 Jul 2021

The CEO has approved a pilot for prefiling adoption mediation to be delivered by the in-house practice under the Early Resolution Assistance service type.


Early Resolution Assistance is a service type that provides for representation in established dispute resolution forums. It fills the gap between short discrete service types advice and minor assistance, and litigation under a grant of legal aid.

Early Resolution Assistance is:

  • legal representation provided to a person participating in an established, independent dispute resolution process
  • available to applicants who satisfy the eligibility criteria, and
  • available for disputes which can be resolved quickly and cost-effectively by use of the dispute resolution process on its own.

Prefiling Adoption Mediation Pilot

Legal Aid NSW and the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) have agreed to establish formalised mediation process for interested parties at the pre-filing stage of adoption.

The prefiling adoption mediation pilot will provide a forum for interested parties to engage with DCJ or the Authorised Adoption Service Provider in a supported discussion that focuses on the best interests of the child. This gives interested parties, including birth parents and other relatives, and prospective adoptive parents, an opportunity to contribute to the development of the adoption plan and discuss and resolve issues in dispute early on in the adoption process.

Work may be assigned to private lawyers where a conflict arises.

What has changed?

The Prefiling Adoption Mediation Pilot is available as an Early Resolution Assistance service to applicants who satisfy the eligibility criteria, including simplified means and merit tests.

Details of the Prefiling Adoption Mediation Pilot are published on Policy Online: Early Resolution Assistance.

Commencement date

The change applies to applications determined on or after 7 July 2021.

Contact for further information

Please contact the Client Eligibility Unit for any questions about the change at aideen.mcgarrigle@legalaid.nsw.gov.au or 9219 5701.