A picture paints a thousand words. To me, Felicita Sala’s illustration represents the harmony that exists between most people, most of the time. What I see in the illustration is individual people of all ages and walks of life cooperatively meeting theirs and others’ interests as they make their way through a crowd on their way to their various destinations. That, to me, is the basis of mediation: individual people recognising similar interests in others and cooperating in the interest of coexisting and achieving their goals.
Halsmith Dispute Resolution thanks Felicita Sala for her permission to use her illustrations.



This page introduces Halsmith Dispute Resolution (HDR), my Perth based mediation and professional development practice. On this page I explain the scope of my practice, its evolution and what is important to me in how the practice operates.


Halsmith Dispute Resolution (HDR)

Margaret Halsmith

I am the Principal Mediator at HDR (Halsmith Dispute Resolution) and the sole practitioner. Administrative and other non-clinical support is provided by the Practice Manager. I am a sole practitioner so that I can provide a personalised practice.

I came to mediation almost twenty years ago after a career in psychology and education during which I worked in organisations and institutions and with families in Perth and throughout Western Australia. Among my areas of particular interest in dispute resolution are: maximizing the effectiveness of decision-making and dispute resolution; working constructively with the circumstances of each set of participants; contributing to excellence in the standards of practice of mediation and Family Dispute Resolution (FDR); designing dispute resolution for when there is entrenched conflict; and maximising participants’ overall wellbeing during and after dispute resolution. I have a special interest in apologies in mediation.

As well as my practice, my professional life includes the roles that I have in organisations that directly influence dispute resolution in Western Australia, Australasia and internationally. You can read more about this in the Professional involvement section of this page.

All aspects of my professional life are connected by my enthusiasm for harmonious decision-making and peaceful dispute resolution. I am very fortunate that my professional and voluntary roles complement each other in an energising way. I find that a mediation mindset serves me well day-to-day.

My philosophy and my approach to my practice are summarised in these comments:

'I find that each mediation is distinct from each other mediation. I am intrigued by my observation that despite the apparent similarity of people, in almost 20 years of full-time practice I have found each mediation to be unique.'

'I reply to each email and answer each phone call because it is my belief that the even handedness, future focus and respect of and for mediation commences with the very first contact with each client.'

'I think of all the participants in a mediation, the parties, the professional  trusted advisors including lawyers and accountants, and personal trusted advisors, as my peers; peers with their unique goals and roles for mediation; I with mine.'

'I welcome trusted advisors who are invited by participants to accompany their clients to mediation. Both personal and professional trusted advisors add important dimensions of support, confidence and reality checking to mediation.'

'My logo explains how mediation adds value and increases satisfaction for all concerned and how mediation is significantly different from a settlement conference.'

When I am not mediating or occupied by mediation related activities, I enjoy time with family and friends, walking in the bush throughout Western Australia and Australia and reading. I am looking forward to getting to know New Zealand as a tourist. You may care to read more about my professional history in About Margaret.

The Practice Manager is Malcolm Halsmith. During his long professional career in the telecommunications industry, Malcolm observed the great value of cooperative dispute resolution. He is now enthusiastic about managing the administrative aspects of HDR.

Back to top

What HDR does

There are two main strands to my professional practice:

  • Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Mediation
  • Professional Development (PD) for individuals and very small groups of Mediators and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners

I also provide PD for people who are decision makers. Another strand of my practice is a consultancy on Dispute System Design and related issues. Neither has yet made it onto the website. Please contact me to discuss.

I blog and tweet and about mediation and matters related to DR (Dispute Resolution).


Mediation is evenhanded facilitation of a structured process of decision making. It is particularly suitable for dispute resolution and for other settings of decision-making. You can read more about mediation on the Mediation page.

Each mediation is unique because the people and their circumstances are unique. It is the process of mediation, however, is highly transferable from one setting to another. Mediation is likely to be suitable where ever there are people who are open to moving on to what their futures hold.

Please refer to the Areas of Practice page to read more about where mediation can assist.  If you are in circumstances which are not specifically listed in my Areas of Practice and which may be assisted by mediation, please contact me. I am experienced at mediating in new and novel situations.

You can read a selection of mediation Case Studies and recent Testimonials.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Mediation

Family Dispute Resolution Mediation is mediation that is designed specifically to assist you and your family, if you are separating or planning to separate, to make practical decisions in the best interests of your children. FDR is equally suitable for property settlements, Child Support and other financial arrangements and other issues relating to separation.

You can read a selection of mediation Case Studies and recent Testimonials.

Professional Development

I provide Professional Development (PD) for Mediators and FDR Practitioners (FDRPs). The programs are tailored to individuals and very small groups. They include coaching for accreditation, coaching for practice, advanced workshops and mentoring. I assist you to choose PD that starts with your current competencies and develops toward your goals.

You can read recent Professional Development Testimonials.


My blog is Mediation Musings. It’s where I organise my thoughts on the many fascinating aspects of mediation. Over the years I expect it will contradict itself. That to me is a sign of growth and learning as well as indicative of the many paradoxes of human interaction, especially regarding conflict. There are many posts in draft form which I look forward to posting.


I tweet @HalsmithDisRes where you will find my thoughts on what characterises the essence of mediation and on threshold issues of the scope of mediation. It is one of the lenses through which I reflect on my day.

The term ‘mediation’ is used in many different ways. Sometimes it means almost any process in which someone provides assistance to others to resolve conflict. Other times it means a specific process which is clearly distinct from other forms of dispute resolution.

I tweet #mediation is… in the interests of contributing to people knowing what they can expect from mediation and how versatile it is.

The HDR logo

I designed the logo for Halsmith Dispute Resolution to illustrate the goal of cooperative decision-making and cooperative dispute resolution is to add value for each person involved and affected. It summarises how I think of mediation. The logo was created by a local graduate designer. It is intended to convey where to start to resolve a dispute, what to aim for and how to get there.

B‚Äčack to top

HDR clients

I provide mediation for people from a wide range of circumstances. Since the mid-1990s I have met and mediated with people from rural, regional, remote and city areas; people in their teens through to people in their eighties. I mediate for people in Perth and throughout Western Australia and for people interstate and overseas.

I mediate for people in conflict and for people with big decisions to make. Some people mediate to address issues in their personal lives; for other people it is their working roles in government, business and in industry in which their sense-of-self is stretched beyond conflict to a dispute.

I provide mediation for people who have had enough of being stuck and are seeking new ways to move forward. I provide mediation for people who want an approach that will maintain relationships or assist in restoring relationships. Feedback tells me that people are also looking for outcomes that have the potential to lead to long periods of cooperation and peaceful coexistence. You can read recent Mediation and FDR Mediation Testimonials here.

I provide Professional Development (PD) for both new and experienced Mediators and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs). Some PD clients are colleagues from the private and public sectors: some mediate daily; others mediate from time to time; some are preparing for their first mediation. You can read recent Professional Development Testimonials here.

I also provide PD for people who are decision makers. Another strand of my practice is a consultancy on Dispute System Design and related issues. It has not yet made it onto the website. Please contact me if you would like to discuss.

Back to top

A very brief history of HDR

I started mediating part time in private practice in Perth in the mid-1990s, when mediation was unregulated and largely the realm of not-for-profit organisations. I established my company, Halsmith Consulting Pty which trades as HDR, in the early 2000s. Now, in the mid-2010s there is a healthy private sector as well as a healthy not-for-profit sector and mediation is significantly more regulated than it was twenty years ago.

From the 1990s to the 2010s my practice has evolved in parallel with mediation in Australasia. Dispute resolution has found and consolidated its place in universities, government and business.

In parallel with my practice I have engaged with various industry bodies. I am the Chair of the Dispute Resolution membership organisation formed by the integration of LEADR and IAMA, to be known initially as ‘LEADR & IAMA’, after Chairing LEADR from 2007 to 2014. I was a member of NADRAC, the Federal Attorney General’s advisory committee on ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), from 2008 until its closure in late 2013. My involvement in these bodies has been motivated by my enthusiasm for the considerable personal and societal benefits of mediation and other Dispute Resolution approaches. I had the privilege of contributing to the development of the National Principles for Dispute Resolution.

My vision is of a world in which each person starts, continues and ends each interaction and conversation with the mindset of ‘I’m OK; you’re OK: each of us is unique’.

The future

The history I am planning to create over the next five years is one of continuing to practice mediation and expanding my professional development practice. I also plan to continue to contribute to broadening the use and raising the standards of Dispute Resolution in Western Australia, Australasia and beyond.

One among many of the projects that contributes to this aim is the SCRAM (Schools Conflict Resolution and Mediation) Program, a theatre-sports-style program which teaches 14 and 15 year olds to mediate.

Back to top

Thoughts about people and conflict

I start with the idea that conflict is normal. Each person is unique so each person experiences the world in a way that varies from each other person. It is the variation in perspectives that gives rise to conflict. For there to be no conflict, each of us would need to be a clone of the other. How underwhelming that would be!

Mimi & Eunice are written and drawn by Nina Paley

Since conflict is normal, it is reasonable to expect to experience it day-to-day. I think of conflict as what happens when an interpersonal exchange challenges and stretches your sense of being unique, your sense-of-self, and your sense of knowing yourself so much that you need to think about how to respond to it.

When the stretching is contained within the scope of your usual coping range, you are likely to respond to the conflict by recognising that you have choices in how you can deal with it. You will probably think about your choices and then decide between

  • doing nothing, that is, you can put up with the situation
  • quietly accept the situation, that is, you can let it go
  • doing something yourself to improve the situation, that is, you can do your own thing
  • demanding your preferred outcome, that is my way or the highway
  • arguing it out until you reach a compromise, that is, you can each give and take from a little to a lot
  • talking through the situation until you reach an arrangement that really suits each of you, that is, you can come up with new arrangements

When the stretching is beyond the scope of your usual coping range you are likely to react to the conflict because you are past recognising all the choices that you have in how you can deal with it. Two things have happened to the conflict: the conflict has become a dispute and it is no longer centre stage. You are centre stage. Instead of thinking clearly about your choices for dealing with the dispute, you are likely to have become somewhat emotional as you try to deal with being stretched beyond your coping range.

The shift from conflict to a dispute; from within to beyond your coping range occurs for a variety of reasons. The situation may have become beyond your coping range because the issue has become particularly important; and/or the conflict has been persistent; and/or communication has become counter-productive; and/or there is a shift in ability to influence one another.

When conflict becomes a dispute you may need some assistance to be able to approach the situation thoughtfully, that is, in the way that you would if it had remained a day-to-day conflict.

Mediation is asistance that can shift a situation from being a dispute, which is a conflict that is outside your coping range, to a conflict that is within your coping range and from there on to a resolution, if a resolution is appropriate. Mediation is among the most commonly used assisted approaches for resolving disputes.

When disputes are resolved and agreement is reached, you are likely to have a restored and stronger sense-of-self because you recognise yourself again.

Willingness to resolve conflict is vital to relationships because it demonstrates your commitment. Resolving conflict validates you as unique; develops and refines boundaries; broadens and deepens your self-awareness and reduces tension.

Back to top

Working with people in dispute

I work with people in dispute to reduce the stress caused by the dispute and the fallout caused by managing it.

Also, I work with people in dispute because people in dispute are ripe for insights and people who are ripe for insights are ripe for change. Due to its cooperative principles and its inclusive processes, mediation provides opportunities for people to change gradually to resolve their disputes and as they do, to become familiar with cooperative approaches. This increases the likelihood of conflicts being addressed rather than escalating into disputes, contributing to harmonious and peaceful communities, one mediation at a time. To me, this is a quiet, grassroots contribution to global peace.

The mediation approach also provides benefits where not all participants are ready to mediate. Dispute Resolution Coaching is the mediation approach adapted for one person. It enables are person to take a confident and constructive role and independently initiate a new approach to reduce conflict and to move forward resolution of a dispute. If you would like to know more about Dispute Resolution Coaching please contact me. Dispute Resolution Coaching is one of the services that I provide that has yet to find a place on my website.

Back to top


B Psych, BA, Dip Ed

I hold all relevant dispute resolution accreditations for practising as a Mediator in Australia and beyond.

  • Accredited Mediator NMAS (National Mediator Accreditation System)
  • Accredited Mediator Advanced Resolution Institute
  • Accredited and Registered FDR (Family Dispute Resolution) Practitioner
  • Accredited Mediator IMI (International Mediation Institute)
  • Appointed mediator under Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) and Principles 1998-2008

Back to top

Professional involvement

I have a number of roles in organisations that directly influence dispute resolution in Western Australia, Australasia and internationally.

  • I am the Chair of Resolution Institute (formerly LEADR & IAMA): the Australasian not-for-profit organisation formed in 2015 following the integration of LEADR and IAMA. Prior to this I was Chair of LEADR from 2007. LEADR was formed in 1989 to serve the community by promoting and facilitating the use of consensual dispute resolution processes and as well as being a membership body. IAMA (Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia) was formed in 1975 with similar goals.. 
  • I am a Vice Chair of the IMI (International Mediation Institute) Independent Standards Commission which creates and oversees international mediator competency standards.
  • I am a member of the International and the Australian Organising Committees for the Global Pound Conference.
  • I am a founding member of ADRAC (Australian Dispute Resolution Advisory Council)
  • I am the Deputy Convenor of WADRA (Western Australian Dispute Resolution Association), through which, as Convener from 2000 – 2007, I initiated SCRAM (Schools Conflict Resolution and Mediation competition).
  • I am a member of AMATI (Association of Mediation Assessors, Trainers and Instructors).
  • I am a member of the Executive Committee of EMAN (Elder Mediation Australasian Network).
  • Halsmith Dispute Resolution has been a member of Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) since its inception.
  • I am a member of the Australian Psychological Society Dispute Resolution and Psychology Group.
  • I am a member of the first International Advisory Board of ACDR (Afghanistan Centre for Commercial Dispute Resolution)
  • I was a member of NADRAC (National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council) from 2008 until its closure in late 2013. NADRAC advised the Federal Attorney General and federal courts and tribunals with respect to ADR issues with a view to achieving and maintaining a high quality, accessible, integrated federal ADR system.
  • I am the author of ‘Civic dialogue – leading respectful conversations’ in So you want to be a leader? Philip Crisp (ed) 2015.

Back to top

Membership of Mediation Panels
  • Singapore International Mediation Centre
  • The Law Society of Western Australia
  • Small Business Development Corporation, Perth
  • Aboriginal Mediation Service, Perth
  • Office of the Franchising Mediation Advisor
  • APRA AMCOS Resolution Pathways
  • WA Sports Federation Panel
  • Westrain

Back to top

Membership of Determination Panels
  • Independent Assessment Panel, Anglican Church.

Back to top