It is not small people who ask for forgiveness. It is large hearted, magnanimous courageous people who are ready to say what are some of the most difficult words in any language: ‘I am sorry’. But once uttered, they open the way to a new opportunity, the possibility of a new beginning, the chance to start again having learnt a lesson from the past– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
What is Restorative Justice?
Our Definition of Restorative Justice is that:
“it is a process based on the principle, that the people most effective at finding a solution to a problem are the people who are most directly impacted by the problem.”
We facilitate and provide opportunities for those involved in a conflict to work together to understand, clarify, resolve the incident and work together towards repairing the harm caused.
Restorative Justice focuses on the human emotional impact of an incident. It works alongside, but does not replace, the management of crime and justice and other wrongdoings that can occur in any situation, including schools, neighbourhoods, businesses, prisons, etc.
We focus on the people affected by an incident, and the damage that is caused to relationships as a result of a wrongdoing. We pay attention to healing the damage in a range of ways, not all of which are focussed on punishment. A foundation principle is that Restorative Justice balances the needs of the community, victims and offenders after an offence has occurred.
Our processes and principles recognise the vital role of conciliation and mediation as important processes in healing the damage to the community, victims and offenders after crime. We place the healing process into a context that is both punitive where necessary, and reparative where possible. Restorative Justice Principles require offenders to be accountable for their crimes, just as the current system does, but it requires even more accountability by personalising the situation, the problem and the solution.
We believe that the dilemma presented by the increase in crime in western society might be more easily managed by collaborative approaches based on a system that embraces the humanity of all involved and the need to reconcile at a very fundamental level.
How Does Restorative Justice work?
Restorative Justice can involves many different types of processes including:
- Face to face meetings
- Separate meetings
- Restorative Circles
- Large group meetings
We prepare for the process by meeting with all those involved and discussing their input and what they would like to achieve from participating in the Restorative process. Once we have everyone’s agreement we convene a restorative process at a safe neutral environment.
What is a restorative conference?
A restorative conference is a gathering (usually face to face) of the people most directly affected and impacted by a wrongdoing or crime. This will include offenders, victim/s, and family of both offender/victim and any affected community members who wish to participate.
What is a Restorative Circle?
Circle Time is a restorative process used very effectively in school environments and the effective application of Circle Time provides an opportunity for the teacher and class to communicate with each other about issues which promote self-esteem and positive behaviour thus preventing conflict. Circles can also help resolve conflict.
What’s the Purpose of a Restorative Conference?
- To provide all parties present with an opportunity to discuss how a wrongdoing or offence has affected them and others.
- To provide all parties present with an opportunity to discuss how an issue of concern has affected them and others and to address concerns before they escalate into conflict.
- To provide participants with an opportunity to understand and to be accountable for the resultant effect/impact of their behaviour/s
- To provide participants in a community, or offenders and victims with an opportunity to be involved in finding agreed solutions to repair the harms caused.
- To provide opportunities for supporting offenders in completion of rehabilitative reparation.
- To provide the potential for reintegration of the offender into a supportive community.
- Note: An “offender” may not necessarily be a criminal but could be anyone who has caused harm to another within a community.