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Understanding barriers

Barriers to access come in all shapes and sizes. The essential differences among them depend on who creates them – the society, particular institutions or organizations (including government), or those who need access themselves.

The barriers specific to this course  are the conditions, policies, or attitudes that prevent or make difficult the mediation work.


Societal barriers

These are barriers that exist because of “the way things are,” and because of the assumptions that a majority of people in a community or a country make about the nature of the world

Institutional barriers

Institutions – schools and colleges, government bodies, hospitals, organizations, workplaces, businesses, etc. – often intentionally or unintentionally make it difficult for particular individuals or groups (sometimes not only migrants, but anyone) to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Personal barriers

  • Psychological barriers. Shame or embarrassment about what they need (basic skills such as reading or writing) or fear of failure,  keep many people from seeking services, from using such public amenities such as libraries, or even from registering to vote.
  • The uncertainty of poverty. Disadvantaged individuals in our migrant communities can have a greater incidence of financial uncertainty in their lives.
  • Cultural or religious issues. Some cultures object to the education or employment of women. Some cultures or religions have restrictions against or ethical concerns about some or all medical care, borrowing money, allowing children to participate in after-school or recreational activities, eating particular foods, etc. These cultural standards may conflict with various services in the community.
  • Family concerns. In addition to the ever-present need for childcare, many potential users of community services and amenities hesitate or refuse because of other family issues. Spouses or other family members – or the individual themselves – may object to the time an individual spends in receiving services, or to the resulting changes in the family routine.
  • Lack of basic skills or education. The inability to read and write the majority language, or to do at least basic maths, is likely to keep people from accessing needed services.
  • Lack of job and personal skills. In addition to educational gaps, some migrants find themselves with few skills required to get and keep a job –– and thus reduce their chances of gaining income or forming personal networks.


How can a mediator take steps to maximise inclusion

How can a mediator take steps to maximise inclusion

Search for new information and ideas

Advocate acceptance of the new alternatives

Understanding Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and emotions. It is essential to building good relationships. Research shows that empathy is partly innate and partly learned.

Interesting work is bring done in terms of Migration: An Empathy Exercise. This is a multi-step reflective exercise designed to build empathy and personal insight into processes of loss, change, and reconnection associated with the disruption of personal and cultural connections to landscape.

Migration: An Empathy Exercise (

Watch Julia Menard’s talk “Mediate While the World Burns”

Conflict Mediator Julia Menard takes us on a journey into the key skills required to help us engage the coming storms with more collaboration, equanimity and peace.
Julia Menard is a mediator, trainer, ICF-certified coach, and faculty member at the Justice Institute of BC in both their Centre for Conflict Resolution and Centre for Leadership.