The mediation of family disputes in terms of the Children's Act 38 of 2005: Experiences and views of social workers

Collett, Mark Charles (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Conflict is pervasive in society and is especially prevalent in families. The nature of social work has meant that social workers have inevitably played a large role in resolving conflict. A methodology that has long been employed to resolve conflict is mediation. In recent years the value of mediation has been increasing recognised and has seen changes in the law to formalise mediation in the dispute resolution process. The entrenchment of mediation in the law has coincided with a recognition that social workers are appropriate mediators of family conflict. Mediation has traditionally fallen into one of three different kinds: facilitative mediation, evaluative mediation and transformational mediation. In recent years a hybrid approach has also been adopted by some mediators. Changes brought about by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 mirror the international shift to mediation as an appropriate dispute resolution mechanism in family disputes. The Children’s Act names social workers as appropriate mediators in a wide variety of disputes and the involvement of the social worker includes eliciting the participation of the child in decisions regarding the child. The goal of the research was to provide an insight into the role of social work mediators mediating family disputes in terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. The research approach taken has both qualitative and quantitative features. The research design was exploratory and descriptive because of the lack of existing research in the field in South Africa. However, there is literature available internationally on the topic and this international literature was used as a frame of reference for the study to compose a literature review which then was used to design a semi-structured questionnaire. The sample was drawn by using a snowball technique in that social worker mediators were recruited and asked to identify other social workers whom they knew to meet the criteria for inclusion and who would be prepared to participate in the study. This process continued until saturation point was reached. In total the sample comprised of seventeen (n=17) participants. The researcher e-mailed the questionnaire to each participant, and each participant was given the opportunity to raise any queries regarding the questionnaire in a follow-up telephone call from the researcher. The most prominent findings are that mediation as a dispute resolution methodology offers benefits to disputing parties and to the children affected by conflict. It is a useful skill and tool for the social worker who is approached to help parties resolve a dispute. Social workers practising mediation in South Africa tend to supplement the social work skills with mediation and domestic violence knowledge in order to provide a professional service to clients and mitigate the risk carried in a developing mediation system. Based on these findings several recommendations and areas for further research were identified.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Konflik kom algemeen in die samelewing en in gesinne voor. Weens die aard van maatskaplike werk speel maatskaplike werkers noodwendig ‘n groot rol in konflikoplossing. Mediasie is ‘n metode wat lank reeds aangewend word om konflik op te los. In die laaste jare is die waarde van mediasie toenemend erken en is veranderinge om mediasie in die dispuutoplossingproses te formaliseer sigbaar in wetgewing. Die insluiting van mediasie in wetgewing het saamgeval met ‘n erkenning dat maatskaplike werkers geskikte mediators is om gesinskonflik te hanteer. Mediasie word tradisioneel as een van drie soorte beskou: fasiliterende mediasie, evaluatiewe mediasie en transformerende mediasie. In die laaste jare word ‘n hibriede benadering deur party mediators aanvaar. Veranderinge wat deur die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 meegebring is, reflekteer die internasionale skuif na mediasie as ‘n geskikte dispuutoplossingmeganisme in gesinsdispute. Die Kinderwet verwys na maatskaplike werkers as geskikte mediators om ‘n wye verskeidenheid dispute te hanteer en ook om maatskaplike werkers te gebruik om kinders se deelname in besluite te verkry waar besluite die kind self raak. Die doel van die studie was om insig te vekry in die rol van maatskaplikewerkmediators wat gesinsdispute in terme van die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 hanteer. Die navorsingbenadering wat gevolg is het beide kwantitatiewe en kwaliltatiewe kenmerke. Die navorsingontwerp was verkennend en beskrywend as gevolg van die gebrek aan navorsing oor die onderwerp. Daar is egter internasionale literatuur beskikbaar oor die onderwerp. Hierdie internasionale literatuur is benut as verwysingsraamwerk vir die studie om ‘n literauurstudie saam te stel wat daarna gebruik is om ‘n semi-gestruktureerde vraelys op te stel. Die steekproef is verkry deur die gebruik van ‘n sneeubaltegniek om maatskaplikewerkmediators te werf, wat dan versoek is om ander maatskaplike werkers te identifiseer wat aan die kriteria vir insluiting by die studie voldoen, en wat bereid was om aan die studie deel te neem. Die proses het voortgeduur totdat ‘n versadigingspunt bereik is. In totaal het die steekproef uit sewentien (n=17) deelnemers bestaan. Die navorser het die vraelys per epos aan elke deelnemer gestuur en die deelnemers het die geleentheid gehad om enige vrae te vra oor die vraelys in ‘n opvolgtelefoonoproep van die navorser. Die vernaamste bevindinge is dat die metode van dispuutoplossing voordele inhou vir partye wat ‘n dispuut ervaar en ook vir die kinders wat deur konflik affekteer word. Dit is ‘n nuttige hulpmiddel vir maatskaplike wekers wat genader word om partye te help om konflik op te los. Maatskaplike werkers wat mediasie in Suid-Afrika gebruik, neig om maatskaplikewerkvaardighede aanvullend tot mediasie te gebruik. Hulle gebruik ook hulle kennis oor gesinsgeweld om ‘n professionele diens vir diensverbruikers aan te bied en om die risiko wat deel is van ‘n ontwikkelende mediasie sisteem te verlig. Verskeie aanbevelings en areas vir verdere navorsing is identifisieer, gebaseer op die voorafgaande bevindinge.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104886
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