Why early resolution of neighbour disputes is so important.

Artilce written by Senior Resolution Practitioner, Denise Evans. 

Google maps For a dispute to get to the point where a neighbour is carving abusive messages in the landscape and sharing that internationally, the dispute must have been ongoing and affected both parties and their community.

As our neighbourhoods become closer and more intense, the opportunity for neighbours to fall out increases. Living in community is all about each person being able to enjoy themselves, access shared community facilities and not be adversely impacted by the actions of another. Mostly it seems this is achieved through peaceful conversation and negotiation. When it goes wrong however it can lead to significant stress, poor decision making and at worst harmful action.

It’s important to know the difference between compromise where usually all parties feel they have lost something and the creation of a new way of being which is when people reorganise what they are currently doing to create an environment which better meets their needs. We see this all the time at FairWay. For example, recently we assisted a community resolve an argument about rubbish being left in common areas. The result was a recycling project and a community garden which included composting of organic material. This outcome came about because people shared their needs and interests in the dispute. Who knows what the impact for the future might be from the improvement in both the knowledge parties had about each other, their children and lives and in their relationship.

At FairWay, we have a team of Resolution Co-ordinators who are skilled at helping people find a dispute resolution method which suits the situation. Sometimes that might just be a facilitated discussion or a community meeting. In certain circumstances, such as when the parties live in a community which is owned by a Body Corporate that might mean that a decision will need to be made by an arbitrator if not resolved through discussion. Whatever process is chosen, the most important thing is that any dispute resolution process has to recognise that people living in community have an ongoing relationship which is often more important than the issue in dispute.