Mediator neutrality continues to be a highly debated and contested concept for mediation practice. This thesis proposes a model for the practice of neutrality in mediation that is drawn from an empirical study of mediators’ understanding of the concept, and a review and reconstruction of scholarly definitions and descriptions. The empirical component of the study consists of in depth interviews with mediators from two community based mediation services. The main findings of the fieldwork are firstly, that mediators do adopt neutrality as a core principle of practice; secondly, that mediators make sense of neutrality by understanding it in relation to party self determination; and thirdly, that mediators extend the meaning of neutrality, as commonly understood, by creatively employing a range of legal and therapeutic and or community themes.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2010.