It all started in 1974, with the Community Diversion Association, later changing its name to the Victoria Association for Community Diversion/Mediation. For the first five years the agency focused mainly on Small Claims cases. However, with the advent of the Pre-trial Settlement Conference, the service was absorbed by the Small Claims Court. It was around this time that the Diversion program was transferred to the John Howard Society.
The agency quickly recognized the need for accessible mediation services within the community and in response to the identified service gap the organization was reborn as the South Island Dispute Resolution Centre Society (SIDRCS). This operation was run solely by volunteers, out of a small office on Douglas St. As the organization grew, so did our reputation and the demand for our services steadily increased.
In early 1993 we were awarded a contract to provide mediation services for the Child Protection Branch of the Ministry of Children and Families (MCFD). This program continued and remained highly regarded by Ministry staff as a valuable resource/support for families with MCFD involvement, until 2010. Later on in 1993, the Provincial Employees Community Services Fund (PECSF) became a major benefactor and COMPASS, our training program for low-income community members, was created. COMPASS ran for over 16 years when it was overhauled and relaunched to the community as Communicating Through Conflict.
By November 1995, we had officially outgrown our Douglas Street space and we moved to the much more commodious Wharf Street office. This move enabled us to start a mediator training program. We proudly opened The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Management (ICAM in 1998. After six successful years running the ICAM program, it became obvious that we had been diverted away from our community focused mandate of the earlier years. It was decided that we needed to refocus our efforts back toward community capacity building and we restructured once again.
To facilitate the directional shift the organization was taking, it was decided that ICAM would become its own entity. Since the transition back to providing accessible services, our organization has flourished. By building partnerships with other community agencies, providing a wide variety of client-oriented training projects and offering affordable mediation services we are “Changing the Culture of Conflict”.
In the spring of 2007 it was decided that we had once again outgrown our space. We weren’t readily able to locate a suitable permanent space and with the sale of the premises at hand, we moved to a temporary rental space on McKenzie Avenue. There we stayed while we searched for our new permanent home. It took quite a bit of searching and we were blessed to move into our new premises here on Sooke Road in November 2008!
Although, many of our programs are run off-site, we maintain this space to provide a neutral place for mediation/coaching sessions and to house our administrative offices. We are also able to accommodate small groups in our board room. In 2013 we changed our name to Communica: Dialogue and Resolution Services, then were required to change names in 2016 when a communications business in Vancouver trademarked the word “Communica”. We are now Dialogue and Resolution Services. We use a Collaborative Conflict Management approach, which is a constructive paradigm. Working from the premise that everyone is doing the best they can in the circumstances they find themselves, we see disputes are problems to be solved cooperatively, dealing respectfully with interpersonal relationships.
The way people deal with the dispute can go a long way to minimize the pain, cost and risk to the relationship and can bring energies to focus on the best possible outcome for all concerned. Skilled mediators can often deal with a dispute that has escalated to the point where the people involved may have lost sight of their objectives. By careful management, mediators can bring about a change in perspective, an increased understanding of the issues and an outcome satisfactory to all parties.