Restorative circles: Of care, vulnerability and radical kindness

Reflections from RJ World 2020 speaker Arti Mohan

At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, there were clarion calls to fight the war and conquer it. The language of war compels us to fight by putting aside our vulnerabilities. Perhaps, the pandemic need not be seen as war, a call to battle, or even a fight. Maybe, we can move through this difficult time by exhibiting courage of a different kind- the courage that comes from being vulnerable and with showing care and radical kindness.

We need spaces where we can care, where we can express our pain and our struggles and where we can be heard. Restorative circles are one such space.

These circles are a space to speak and listen to one another in an atmosphere of safety and respect. One or two circle facilitators or circle keepers facilitate the process. They ask questions that guide the discussion, but apart from that, participate in equal ways as others in the circle.

The circle offers everyone an opportunity to speak sequentially. While one person is speaking, others offer them the gift of listening without interrupting. Participating in, and sharing in the circle, is always optional, and every participant has the option to engage with the circle process to the extent they’re comfortable.   In most circles, we co-create values for ourselves such as confidentiality, respect, listening, no advice etc.

Questions asked during circles are open-ended and related to the purpose and the need of the circle.

Circles can be used in a wide variety of contexts and to address a wide range of needs. I’ve held circles in different spaces – custodial homes for children, protective shelter home for children, for staff of shelter homes, for frontline workers counselling children, during capacity building trainings, while teaching restorative justice in a law university, for my team at my workplace, and for friends and community.

A key element of all restorative circles is creating a safe, non-judgmental place for connection and dialogue. Circles are based on the principle that talking about challenging experiences helps reduce their adverse impact, and the emotional connection with others promotes wellbeing.

Feeling and acknowledging our emotions

Restorative circles create space to reflect on and experience our emotions. Often, in our daily lives, we may not find spaces or the time to think through how we’re feeling. A frontline worker said that circles are unique in allowing people to talk about one’s thoughts and feelings. Another circle participant said that in the circle as they share, they find words for abstract concepts.

“We need to find spaces to feel hurt rather than to spread hurt” – Brene Brown

Circles allow us to feel our emotions, and to tell ourselves that these emotions are valid even if others may be struggling much more than us. The pandemic impacted everyone in varying ways. It brought forth the existing social marginalization and intensified it. In light of the brutal impact on those impacted the worst, many adults in community circles said that they felt guilty allowing themselves to feel their emotions.

By asking specific questions that allow us to talk about our own emotions, despite all that may be going on around us, circles remind us that while we acknowledge other people’s pain, we are entitled to our feelings.

Talking about the unspoken

Circles create a space to share experiences and enable us to talk about the things that we may have wanted to bury and leave unspoken. Kazu Haga, in Healing Resistance, talks about how the strongest act of courage is often vulnerability; it is talking about the things that we are most ashamed about, the things that we feel the most vulnerable about. When we deny our stories, hide from them or pretend they don’t exist, they begin to define us. The pain begins to impact us and others around us. And by talking about the unspoken, it reduces its power over us.

Urvashi Tilak, Restorative Justice Director at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ), reflects on circles with a group of women and says that, “It was a safe space for them to talk about their past, their childhood, things they had never spoken about earlier, shared with people they barely knew before the circle. Such was the power of the circle.”

“With skinned knees and bruised hearts; We choose owning our stories of struggle, Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories, they define us. So, we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.” Brene Brown

Children in custodial settings have found space to acknowledge their actions for the first time in circle with each other. In a reintegration circle with his family, a child admitted what he’d done to his family without offering any defence, something he hadn’t ever thought he’d do.

In the friends and community circles, adults have often spoken about their deepest fears and about behaviours/personality traits they perceive as their biggest flaws. Circles create space to talk about things that we’ve otherwise chosen to leave unspoken.

“Courage showed me how to open up and talk about the things I’m most ashamed of, being vulnerable. Speaking about true emotions, being vulnerable and showing all of who we are is what takes the most courage.” Kazu Haga, Healing Resistance

Often during circles, children in custodial settings, step away from the strong impenetrable image they’ve created for themselves and share vulnerably about their feelings, including the remorse they feel about their actions. Children in custodial settings have found space in circles to talk about their deepest fears, including being rejected by society and of being stigmatized for life.

Adults have spoken about the fear of losing their loved ones to the pandemic in the frontline worker and community circles. In a community circle where most people were strangers, people spoke about their difficulties with their intimate relationships.

By speaking about our vulnerabilities and what shames us the most, we break down its power over us and work towards our own journey of healing.

The magic of listening

“The experience has been undoubtedly beautiful for me. I never realized how powerful and effective a listening circle could be.” Shivangini, CSJ

Another element at play in circles, apart from the safe space to share, is the gift of listening. Listening is powerful and can help to reduce the intensity of our emotions. Often after people share deeply in circle, they later talk about how much calmer they feel. A frontline worker said that after the circle they felt as if a heavy balloon inside them had burst in the circle, and they felt much lighter after. Another participant in a community circle spoke about her severe emotional distress during the circle and later said that she felt a sense of calm after.

For the listeners as well, listening is an act of kindness towards others which, in turn, is a healing action for oneself. Shivangini Singh, Social Worker at CSJ talks about her experience of holding circles and how “listening to what others have to share has also been so wonderful because you realise how similar our experiences have been somewhere despite different contexts.”

Over the years, facilitating circles helps me feel a deep sense of belonging and connection as I realize that no matter how unique my troubles are, we are all human and all have our struggles, which our often similar. Shivangini puts it beautifully when she says holding and being in circle brings such a marvellous sense of community and I completely rejoice in the space”.

Building belonging and connection

“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen. It involves a choice to be vulnerable. To brave judgment and rejection. To overcome shame in a world that teaches us we must somehow be fixed.” Brene Brown

By creating spaces for vulnerability, circles also foster a space for building and deepening connection. At my organization, CSJ, I’ve held circles for the team around different themes, including those specific to listening and connecting. Often, when someone new joins, we invite everyone to share our stories of what brought us to the work we do. After one of our office circles during the pandemic, Prerna Barua, a colleague who recently joined the team virtually, said that the circle helped her feel a sense of connection with the team she’d never met in person.

Circles give us space to come together despite our varying identities and to be seen as our real selves. Urvashi reflects on facilitating circles with women from different social identities and how she initially wondered whether they would share in circle. Within a month, they began to take collective ownership for the circle process, reminding each other to uphold the collective values and guidelines, and began sharing from a place of vulnerability.

When physical distancing began, circles had to adapt to the virtual realm. Initially, I was sceptical about holding virtual circles owing to the lack of physical proximity. Over time, with training from some beautiful mentors (Dr. Frida Rundell and Molly Rowan) and many circles later, I believe that circles can be as magical over Zoom as in real life.

A frontline worker who regularly comes to circles said that during this period circles may be all the more important, “Circles help remind us that we are mentally connected despite the massive physical distance amongst us.” The virtual format has helped us to invite people from all across the country to circle together.

When the lockdown began, I started inviting my friends to virtual circles as I noticed that a lot of them were going through significant difficulties adapting to the pandemic. In a time of uncertainty, these were beautiful spaces of togetherness. I started putting out flyers and soon I had people I’d never met coming to these circles.

These circles have helped create new connections. Akash, a regular participant in these circles, says that, “Through this listening circle, I was able to meet, understand and listen to people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.” Often, people connect with each other after the circle, creating new bonds and connections.

Creating a container for multiple emotions

Circles can be beautiful containers for a wide variety of emotions. While some circles focus on deep intimate sharing, they also create space for joy, humour, laughter and fun. Often, we’ve played games and coloured while in circle, especially with children. In our circles at CSJ as well, while we’ve had deep sharing, we’ve also intertwined it with humorous prompts and games. Kshipra Marathe, Restorative Justice Counsellor at CSJ says that, “Facilitating and being in circles with children has taught me the beauty of openness and flexibility and the safe space it creates for everyone.  I love how when we go with the flow of the circle, sometimes we play and have fun and other times we have such deep powerful conversations.” Urvashi talks about holding circles with women in the community and how deep circles are often interweaved with moments of lightness and laughter: “I miss those beautiful memories- moments of fun and laughter, sharing joy and tears.” Circles allow us to bring our whole, authentic selves to circle, and all of the aspects that we want to.

Self-care and healing in circle

Circles can be a space for us to focus inwards, to care for ourselves and to be compassionate to ourselves. Frontline workers and caregivers often talk about how they don’t find spaces which allow them to focus on themselves. Many of them have said they feel grateful that for the first time someone asked them how they’re feeling. A frontline worker said that the circle reminds them to think about themselves and to prioritize ourselves.

After a circle at a team retreat (by the beach), Urvashi spoke about how it gave her space to reflect on some very challenging times for her, Sitting there in the circle, overseeing the ocean, it felt good to express- to share with everyone what my family and I went through emotionally. It helped so much to process things better and to accept that our lives had changed.” At the end of this circle, for the closing I invited everyone to write out our worries on seashells and then float them out into sea.

Sharing in circles can also help us to be self-compassionate as we are invited to offer ourselves the same compassion we give others when we share. Vedika, a participant in the community circles, said that, “when I voiced the ideas in my head, I was not self-bashing, I spoke about myself with the compassion and understanding I always afford to everyone around me. That was very special.”

Nikita Kataria, also working on the restorative justice team at CSJ says that being in circle, feeling safe and heard are powerful and have helped become more restorative in her personal life as well. For me as well, being in circle nurtures me to act in consonance with my values within circle, but also outside.

Multiple truths

“Truth and perspective are not a zero sum game. My truth does not negate yours, even if our truths don’t match up.” Kazu Haga

Restorative spaces create spaces for multiple truths and do away with the need to have one argument win over the other. While teaching restorative justice to final year law students, Jonathan Derby (founder of CSJ) and I held circles for discussing the course content. Circles created space for discussion which gave everyone a voice, enabled students to have differing opinions which could all be valid at the same time.

Owing to India’s socio-political situation and treatment of those who are marginalized, many people who came to the community circles during the pandemic where extremely disturbed by the government’s (in)actions. There are often government officials in the same circle who believe that the state is doing the best it could, given the circumstances. ‘Generosity of opinion’ is a value that participants have brought to many circles, a value which has enabled people to talk about their differing viewpoints and perspectives, while respecting each other and their lived reality. Circles may be unique in how they root out the need to have one truth win over the other.

Finding hope

Restorative spaces are also beautiful as they enable us to find hope and meaning. A frontline worker who participated in circles regularly said that, “When we share feelings, we see things in perspective. When we hear others’ problems and how they cope, it’s a reminder that so can we. This gives me hope and helps me to let go of things.”

Tragic optimism can be a helpful coping tool: acknowledging that we can experience intensely negative reactions to the strange times, that we can experience stress and trauma, and at the same time we can seek out glimmers of light in the darkest of nights.

Often, in sharing circles we use questions that help people think through their coping tools and feel a sense of wellness, such as, “What are three things you are grateful for in this moment?”, “What is the one thing you look forward to that helps you feel calm/joyful?”

The circles during the pandemic were a way of responding to uncertainty and finding hope. Akash, a frequent participant said that, “Through some very uncertain times, with no end in sight, these circles managed to pull people from different walks of life together, to share their stories on a platform with no judgment towards the people who shared their stories. It helped me to regain hope and look at the positives of life with renewed vigor.” People have spoken about feeling “a new energy”, a sense of hope, calm, warmth, and feeling light after being in circle.

We are more than the worst things we’ve done

Restorative spaces also allow us to remind ourselves that we are all more than the worst things we do or the worst things that happen to us. Dr. Alissa Ackerman, a restorative justice and gender-based harm expert, used the analogy of driftwood to talk about our duality as human beings. We can harm someone and still be a good human being, we still deserve our humanity. Circles remind us of this.

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Bryan Stevenson

During a reintegration circle for a child in conflict with law and his family, the child, Ishan, acknowledged what he had done in front of his family. His family expressed shock, anger, disappointment and shame and strongly condemned his actions, while his father also said that one mistake ought not to define Ishan for the rest of his life. As we closed the circle by doing a final go-around on what we appreciated about Ishan. Circles create space to acknowledge some of our worst mistakes, while reiterating that we are much more than that, we are all beautiful human beings who have enormous potential to be whoever we want to be.

Spade work for social justice work

“We can’t change other people by our convictions, stories, advice, and proposals, but we can offer a space in ourselves where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations & preoccupations, & listen with attention and care to the voices speaking” Henri Nouwen

Circle spaces and the intertwined mindfulness go beyond the self since they teach us to listen to others, work on undoing our social conditioning and have difficult, uncomfortable conversations. In this regard, Nimisha Srivastava, Program Director, CSJ says that, “For me that has been the most powerful component of circles. Circles have pushed me very gently to recognise my privilege and how others have been impacted by not having what I have had”. And this is the spade work for doing social justice work of dismantling oppressive structures. Circles create space for us to examine and unpack power, privilege and oppression.

During circles with children in custodial settings in Rajasthan, we explored the experiences of social identity and discrimination within the circles. It allowed for creating space to talk about how social oppression impacts those already at the margins of society, and what others can do to start dismantling these oppressive structures. While the aim of circles is not to teach, preach or reprimand, by enabling honest discussion, including examining the impact on those effected, circle processes help build empathy, including in the context of systemic oppression and guide people towards undoing harmful actions. I hope and believe that we can use circles to slowly address systemic and oppressive structural harms.

Reflecting and hoping

Holding circles has been a beautiful journey for me. As I was training to be a circle keeper in law school, it was in circle that I felt I found my voice for the first time, and where I felt I really belonged. Circles give me a sense of connection and belonging. Holding circles and being a circle keeper is my way of bringing that to others around me.

Each circle is a rich experience, in all different contexts. I find it beautiful that a process as simple as a circle can be so powerful in so many different contexts: with people of different ages, social identities, and lived experiences.

As I’ve held more circles, the learning from circles have seeped into my life. Circles have guided me to focus on and value all my relationships. Through being in circle and holding circles, I’ve learned to develop the compassion that I seek to offer others for myself (on most days). Circles give me permission to be my authentic self, far from perfect, yet trying step by step to show courage through vulnerability and radical kindness.

In a world that’s hurting, we may not need armour and battles as much as we may need softness, care and vulnerability: as a way of coping with our difficult emotions; for dealing with pain, rejection, hurt, fear and uncertainty; to move beyond the worst things we’ve ever done; and to begin to address oppressive social structures, one act of vulnerability and care at a time.

Gratitude to all the beautiful people who taught me how to keep circles, to adapt them virtually, and who by being in circle with me as co-facilitators and participants enriched my practice. A special shout out to Prof. Martin Price, my first mentor on holding circles, who made me believe in the magic of circles.


Arti is the Restorative Justice Program Officer at Counsel to Secure Justice in New Delhi India. She has worked on designing and implementing a pilot restorative justice project for children in the legal system. Arti is also a lawyer and has earlier litigated for children who’ve been abused and worked with women in prison.

Speaker Spotlight: Dr Muhammad Asadullah – Decolonising Restorative Justice

One of a number of academics presenting at the RJ World 2020 conference is Dr Muhammad Asadullah who is currently Assistant Professor at University of Regina’s Department of Justice Studies where he teaches on such topics as Restorative and Community Justice, Mediation and Dispute Resolution, Criminology, and Criminal Justice. He holds both PhD and MA in Criminology from Simon Fraser University and an MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University. Some of the many awards and scholarships he has received include Neekaneewak Indigenous Leadership Awards, Contemplative Social Justice Scholar Award, ACJS Doctoral Fellowship Award, C.D. Nelson Memorial Award, Liz Elliott Memorial Graduate Scholarship, and a Law Foundation Scholarship in Restorative Justice. He is a board member of the Salish Sea Empathy Society and is on the Advisory Committee of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Restorative Justice. He has also served on the board of the Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice and the Communities Embracing Restorative Action. His research interests span such fascinating areas as decolonisation, restorative justice, conflict resolution, village courts, peacemaking criminology, indigenous justice and contemplative justice. Dr Asadullah is furthermore certified in Nonviolent Communication training and provides workshops on compassionate communication, self-empathy, and contemplative practice in community, prison, and academic spaces.

Decolonising Restorative Justice

The concept of “decolonisation” is not a new one and many professions, practices, and academic disciplines have had to reflect on their own practices and to what extent they press an ethnocentric approach onto diverse and differing cultures. The idea that indigenous cultures must be central in any successful practice is a view long held by anthropologists and “decolonisation” as a concept has been cause for reflexivity across the social sciences and in education, psychology, governance, justice, research methods, and indeed restorative justice. Monchalin (2016) describes decolonisation as triggering a fundamental shift in colonial structures, ideologies and discourses. “Decolonisation” in the most simple of senses describes the process of a coloniser withdrawing from a colony and leaving it independent and ideally mending harm caused by colonisation but decolonisation can be more complicated as every institution the coloniser leaves behind is shaped around a colonial ideal and reshaping it to suit the indigenous culture may be a challenging process.

Decolonisation in the postcolonial context has additional meaning where it refers to new or international ideas as they are introduced to different cultures. For example, a certain model of restorative justice may be infinitely successfully in Europe but that does not make it necessarily appropriate to introduce the exact same model somewhere else. The way or the context that an idea is introduced and how it is employed is also important. Are indigenous people embracing restorative justice for themselves and using it in their own way or is a large and distant agency or government imposing restorative justice upon them – maybe with the best of intentions – without allowing participants to shape the tool around their own needs? There is also the question of whether restorative practices can be employed in mending damage done by colonisation and aid in the complex postcolonial process.

An important paper

Dr Muhammad Asadullah kindly presents a most interesting paper which argues against “copying and pasting” Eurocentric models of Restorative Justice practices into differing cultural settings. He presents a study, grounded in the findings of RJ visionaries and practitioners in Bangladesh, which proposes a decolonising framework for RJ practices. The research paper Dr Asadullah presents recognises that in the context of restorative justice decolonisation entails “a) addressing historical harms of colonization; b) recognizing grievances of indigenous and marginalized communities about the justice system as genuine; and c) acknowledging that state- or INGO-funded RJ practices may do more harm than good.” Again, the idea that international or cross-cultural interventions which aim to improve people’s lives can inevitably do more harm than good is not a new idea and has been a contentious issue for international development scholars for many years as seen in James Ferguson’s (1994) The Anti-Politics Machine and in other scholarly works which seek to address this quandary. Dr Asadullah’s paper begins with a brief overview of decolonisation discourses from micro and macro perspectives to then locate decolonisation in justice settings. The decolonising framework which this paper offers restorative justice practices may prove of great importance as restorative practices and associated ideas are spreading among academic, justice, and other circles at an accelerated rate. There is no doubt that restorative justice is by now internationally pervasive and so it is crucially important that practitioners recognise that the Eurocentric model familiar to many of us is not suitable in all cultural settings without some reflection or indeed without decolonising that approach. It is also interesting to reflect on ways restorative practices may be employed in a positive way for decolonising purposes.

Ruairí Weiner has recently completed a BA in Anthropology and Criminology from Maynooth University. He is currently a Research Assistant at Maynooth University Department of Law and is pursuing an MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in organisational culture in criminal justice settings and how restorative practices can be applied to a variety of settings for community building and other purposes.

RJ and Covid-19: Three leaders address the current pandemic

Annegrete Johanson (Estonia)

Our wonderfully young but wise Annagrete comes to us from Estonia. She has worked with youth at risk in diferent fields and gave lectures in Universities for over 14 years. She now works as a service manager in Victim support and her responsibility is Restorative Justice and mediation. Annagrete also studied social work, social pedagogy and child care.

What will Annagrete share with us in her presentation?

She will give us an overview of the challenges and sucessses of implementing Restorative Justice in Estonia in the last years. Next to finding a system of volunteers, the time of Covid-19 gave opportunity to develop Restorative Practice further. Especially, since we all were forced to think and look outside the box. Annagrete explains: “In Covid-19 time there were restorative discussion-circles online and after restrictions there were restorative discussion-circles in real life.” In her presentation, she will create a magical space dedicated to storytelling of people who took part in Restorative Practice initiatives.

Meanwhile, to get ready for her talk, you can check out a post which is part of the #SolidarityOverDistance series by the EFRJ (European Forum for Restorative Justice). The article with Annagrete is called “Discussion with Annagrete Johanson” – you’ll learn more about the influence of COVID-19 on Restorative Practice…

Mark Goodwin (UK)

Mark, our freelance teacher, trainer & coach has 20 years’ experience working across phases in a number of schools. He currently work in Alternative Provision with kids who are permanently excluded from school or at risk of exclusion, delivering a solutions focused coaching programme alongside key curriculum.

Moreover, he focusses on preventing kids being excluded by training staff in restorative and relational teaching approaches. He gracefully shared his Checklist focussing on“(…) how to go about building and maintaining effective relationships with young people to help them learn well.” Get free access to the checklist, which includes helpful tips, here: “The Cookie Jar Checklist“!

Also, he has published for “TES” (Times Educational Supplement) on the topic that’s in everyones minds at the moment… Yes, right: Coronavirus. More specifically: Teaching and Coronavirus. Or even better: “4 ways to re-integrate pupils who dislike school” during coronavirus.”

What will Mark share with us in his presentation?

His main topic will address the controversial and questioned matter of Coronavirus in context of education. Mark states: “Reconnecting with young people after Covid after recent events, there will be hundreds of kids who feel disconnected from school, learning and even themselves. This will most keenly be felt by those who are already disadvantaged and marginalised.”

Mark will draw on his deepened experience and expertise in reconnecting excluded kids to learning. He promises to present what is required in the coming weeks and months to support a successful reconnection, including:
– the mindset teachers need,
– the learning kids can do,
– the relationships that will be needed to be built.

He will share with us his approaches, which are based on:
– meeting the kids where they are,
– throwing a wide circle,
– “I see you”,
– “see the best part”, and
– “check Yourself”

He also let us know that his talk is “full of practical advice and approaches that anybody working with young people can take away and use.”

Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK)

“Transforming Conflict” logo. Taken from their Website: https://transformingconflict.org/

Please meet the fantastic lady who founded “Transforming Conflict“, a National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth and Community Settings, 25 years ago! The project “Transforming Conflict” turned out to meet an important social need, so that it now works with staff in children’s residential care, youth organisations and community care. Belinda is also a well-published author and restorative practitioner, trainer and consultant.

But that’s not all – Belinda pioneered the concept of a “whole-school restorative approach” across the UK in the early 2000’s! A true sage and visioner, she is. Moreover, she is on the EFRJ Values and Principles Working Party and is currently on their Training Committee.

What will Belinda share with us in her presentation?

Take a seat, and imagine this scenario…

“It is undeniable that schools worldwide, school communities are facing a ‘new normal’.
After months of isolation and frightening news bulletins we are soon to return to strange new environments facing guidelines that keep people at a distance, hidden behind masks, unable to socialise.
There is huge pressure to make up for lost time academically.
Schools may be tempted to become even more authoritarian to bring students back in line after months away from the routines and rhythms of their school community.

So what do we do in this case?

Belinda will share a package of resources designed by UK restorative practitioners to support the mental and emotional health of the whole school community at this time of crisis. Before the talk, or during the talk – make sure you give this Website “www.restoreourschools.com” a visit! There, you learn more about “(…) How we plan for the return to the classrooms, playgrounds and corridors of schools.” You can also find help-full resources that support this journey.

So, sustainable, practical and informative take-away packages from these 3 speakers are guaranteed! See you there!

The Transformational Power of Youth RJ – 30 speakers share

Historically, young offenders have been processed and treated in a comparable manner to adult offenders. However, with the rise of the RJ philosophy and methodology, young people were some of the first to be trailed in this new and innovative paradigm. Over thirty years later, RJ has increasingly built a good name and continues to play a powerful role in youth justice. Around the world, due to RJ approaches and practices, many young people have been diverted and discouraged from pursuing careers of crime.

“The concept of restorative justice is always applicable, that is we ask: What are the harms that have happened? What are the needs that have resulted? Whose obligations are they? How do we engage people in the process? To what extent can we engage people in the process? Those questions are always valid.”

Professor Howard Zehr

For many young offenders, crime does not occur in a vacuum, separate from the rest of life, but rather is aggravated by other circumstances or problems that exist. For example, there are parents, teachers, peers, and a whole range of other social, or relational, features and elements involved.

In a retributive system, however, many young offenders are processed and sentenced without physical, emotional, and spiritual needs being sufficiently appraised and addressed. Once a victim gets to prison, or some other sentencing result, these needs are often only exacerbated and can detrimentally affect their health and prospect of healing.

Research suggests that RJ practices with youth offenders have led to many promising outcomes, through programs like conferencing, victim-offender mediation, and circle sentencing. In Australia, where indigenous youth over-representation is a considerable concern, these diversionary programs for young people can lead to life-changing beneficial impacts for the offenders and their families. Especially in youth RJ, it is considered important to involve the peers and role models that surround both the offender and victim. This vividly reminds all involved that crime is not isolated, but involves relationships and the community that surrounds these people. And it is often only the RJ approach that helpfully acknowledges this reality.

RJ is based on the recognition that each party involved in the offense – offender, victim, and community – has needs and possibly trauma, and healing must take place.

As many key professionals have suggested, it must be recognised that RJ and the traditional criminal justice system do not need to be mutually exclusive. Each brings a different perspective and, with those different perspectives, different goals and results. When we consider the reality of youth crime, it can be appreciated that RJ can have great results for youth offenders, diverting them from a cyclic and recurring recidivism reality.

During RJ World 2020, we will hear from presenters on the topic of youth RJ. Youth present unique needs and obligations according to a RJ paradigm, which must be genuinely recognised and met with appropraite and sensitive practice.

Victim empowerment: Emerging ideas from 4 speakers

Crime victims should be central to the restorative process. There are over 10 speakers at RJ World who speak on this issue from various perspectives –included among them are survivors of violent crime who overcame their experiences to become academics and practitioners. Here are four to start with.

Malini Laxminarayan

Malini Laxminarayan has in the past worked on projects relating to empowerment of victims of sexual violence, victims’ rights, and access to restorative justice. Her presentation at the upcoming RJ World 2020 Conference will cover new research into experiences of victims of anti-LGBT hate crime in restorative justice. These are preliminary findings from the Lets Go By Talking project which addresses an under researched victim group in restorative justice. This type of victim may require a unique approach as victims suffer not just a personal attack but an attack on their identity. This presentation may benefit those wishing to enhance their understanding of how to engage this unique kind of victim in restorative conflict resolution.

Margot Van Sluytman

Margot Van Sluytman teaches global citizenship at Centennial College, Toronto and is an award-winning justice activist and writer. In her presentation she will explain an emergent model of restorative justice called Sawbonna, in terms of both criminal justice and social justice. Sawbonna challenges common definitions of restorative justice and further empowers victims as informers of policy and active storytellers beyond a bystander role in justice processes. Therefore, Sawbonna may be said to engage in the required discourses to further ideas of victim empowerment and indeed, RJ advocates will be curious to learn more about this approach which may broaden victim definitions in restorative justice.

Claudia Christen-Schneider

Claudia Christen-Schneider, President of the Swiss RJ Forum, will address the topic of trauma in restorative justice in her presentation. In order for RJ to facilitate healing for victims through empowerment and connection building, it is necessary to recognise where victims are also trauma survivors and, in this case, healing necessitates a trauma-informed approach. Research has shown that RJ practitioners may lack this understanding of trauma and are therefore limited in their capacity to facilitate healing and so this presentation will explain trauma-informed restorative practices for the more effective empowerment of victims.

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova is Assistant Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Guilford College, North Carolina. Dr. Tursunova’s presentation will examine the case study of women in rural Uzbekistan who have used restorative circles for their own empowerment in tackling social and economic issues, issues of gender, reorganisation of resources, conflict resolution, and community building. This case study may be interesting in the context of how restorative processes can play a role in social change. It is also interesting that restorative practices have been employed in this context since 1991 and so the role and effect of restorative practices can be seen over a significant period of time. Furthermore, this presentation will be interesting to those considering the breadth of contexts wherein restorative practices prove impactful.


What is the role of the crime victim in restorative justice?

Aertsen et al (2011) suggested that the definition of victim empowerment be broadened in restorative justice from simply an idea of developing self-confidence and understanding of the offence to a sense of empowerment that develops the victim’s capacity to promote social change.1 Indeed, this discussion of victim emancipation which allows the victim a sense of positive impact and the opportunity to engage with crime-relevant social issues is increasingly prevalent. Attendees of the upcoming 2020 RJ World Conference may be interested in hearing emerging ideas around victim empowerment in restorative justice and how victim participation can give a sense of power to affect positive change. In this vein, the following presentations may be of particular interest.

Victim empowerment may be understood as an effort to give victims a greater sense of control and more of an active role in criminal justice processes. Arguably, criminal justice has traditionally been offender-focused, to the detriment of the victim who may feel undervalued and unimportant through the process. Different efforts have been made to ‘empower’ the victim through giving them an opportunity to speak on the impact of the crime on them personally or the opportunity to express what they want from the process. Such efforts – including the likes of victim impact statements – aim to leave victims with a greater sense of satisfaction or closure coming from the criminal justice process. Restorative justice has been praised for improving the balance in criminal justice between the focus on the victim and on the offender. By utilising a process which aims to recognise the needs of both victim and offender, RJ has successfully garnered more satisfactory feedback from victims than those reporting on traditional processes.

1 Prof. Ivo Aertsen of the Leuven Institute of Criminology will also be presenting at the RJ World 2020 Conference on the topic of the history of RJ and the potential of RJ in serious crime, reflecting on the recent history of RJ and RJ developing away from the criminal law


About the author: Ruairí Weiner has recently completed a BA in Anthropology and Criminology from Maynooth University. He is currently a Research Assistant at Maynooth University Department of Law and is pursuing an MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in organisational culture in criminal justice settings and how restorative practices can be applied to a variety of settings for community building and other purposes.

Joseph Lauren: Subject of documentary and RJ advocate

Joseph is the Program Director for the charity, called Restorative Justice Housing Ontario. He also was the first Canadian to receive a Federal Prison sentence for insider trading. From prison, he went to working for a new registered charity, with the goal to assist ex-offenders.

Joseph’s Episode in “Voices Inside Out”

Cover of the Podcast “Voices Inside and Out”

Joseph is the guest in John Howard’s podcast “Voices Inside and Out”. The aim of this podcast is to give a platform to those, who have experienced Canada’s Criminal Justice System, so they can share their stories with the public. Joseph is the guest in a two-part episode.

The first part is titled, Joseph Lauren: Post-custody Housing Challenges and Solutions“. In this interview, Joseph unpacks, and dives deeper into the issues with finding proper housing for ex-offenders. But he does not shy back from these issues! He provides SOLUTIONS – that’s the part that we all need to hear, don’t we? And if you want to learn more of his experience, check out part 2, too. It’s called “Post-custody Employment Challenges and Solutions.

For a little appetiser of what awaits you in episode one, read here:

“After a high-profile conviction for insider trading, finding employment after custody was a challenge for Joseph Lauren. He was handicapped both by a criminal record and a significant presence on google searches. This led to a change of name, starting his own consulting company, and “Collared” a documentary about his crime. Joseph shares with us his journey to earn a living, experiences in prison, and advice for others on how to make it after prison.”

What will Joseph share with us in his presentation?

He will discuss what miraculous event in prison led him from “a life making millions a year as a former lawyer and inside trader to now working as the first Program Director of Restorative Justice Housing Ontario RJHO.ca“(Restorative Justice Housing Ontario).

Adult and child hands holding paper house, family home and homeless shelter concept. Picture taken from http://rjho.ca/.

The plan of RJHO.ca, as they explain on their website is, to…

(…) help people leaving prison become positive members of society by providing safe housing to those with no alternatives. We focus on people who could most benefit from such housing and who are motivated to change their lives. Our positive and supportive community of volunteers help ex‑offenders to transition back into everyday life, reducing the risk of re-offence and making our communities safer.”

In his workshop, Joseph will unapologetically name and talk about the struggle of trying to find safe housing that ex-offenders face. He will clearly outline the precarious position ex-imprisoners find themselves in, even as people that are fully committed to reform.

He will problematize the fact that these people cannot find housing on their own because of finances and discrimination tied to their criminal records – and that’s why support is desperately needed. Support, like from people like Joseph, and charities like RJHO.ca.

“Collared”

Joseph obviously turned his experience into something great, and use-full. On his Website: https://www.collaredconsulting.com/, he offers his skills in many diferent areas.

You can book him as:

  • Compliance-training speaker
  • Information Protection consultant
  • Keynote Ethics speaker and panelist
  • CLE / CPE ethics training consultant
  • Prison Preparation Consultant
  • White-Collar Crime consequences speaker
  • Expert on Insider Trading and its Prevention

And on his personal page you also get access to his successful BLOG, where you can read up more about his fascinating stories.

Aaaand also, while you’re there…. Check out the TRAILER to his EDUCATIONAL-DOCUMENTARY, CALLED “COLLARED”:

Trailer to Josephs film “Collared”

But what’s better than hearing the genius himself live at our RJ WORLD CONFERENCE? Plus, you even get the opportunity to interact with him, and ask him questions! So, we shall see you there! 🙂

Indigenous and Other Discriminated Populations in Aotearoa Require Restorative Justice to Heal Wounds

Dr Lorna Dyall, Raewyn Bhana, and George Ngatai

We will share our experience in being been involved in supporting the implementation of restorative justice on the marae and in the community, working with judges, Court staff, Police, facilitators and community leaders working for change. Working from a kaupapa Maori paradigm addressing harm from a victim’s perspective has widened the lens to the ongoing victimization of Maori and vulnerable groups in the community. A joint presentation will be provided

A group presentation will be presented on restorative justice for Maori, lessons learned, vision for the future as Maori lives matter, the need for structural, social, justice and political reform required so Maori can live free lives without being victimized to become statistics for Police, Courts Judges, Corrections and providing employment to many in Aotearoa. COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Armed Response Unit placed specifically in Maori and Pacific communities with no community engagement resulting in increased criminalization of Maori, requires us to rethink and re visualise what contribution does restorative justice offer to Maori. Further, who needs justice, Aroha, compassion and a fresh start in Aotearoa?

 Introduction

Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua

 Hold fast to your culture, for without language, without mana and without land

 the essence of being Maori would no longer exist

 Aotearoa has faced many challenges this year with issues it seems coming to a head or a tipping point for change, as the status quo or acceptance of structural racial and sexual discrimination is no longer acceptable. This view is increasingly becoming louder and clearer as people protest that black lives matter here in New Zealand and in particular indigenous peoples lives matter and are the most vulnerable and targeted by the Police, Justice, Corrections and custodial care facilities, as forensic mental health services, whom alone and together create services and workforces that meet their institutional needs. This fact is verified in New Zealand by the many recently released reports which have looked at the effectiveness of mental health and addiction services[1], the Family Court[2], our legal and justice systems[3], the quality of care and protection of those under required State Care[4] and the conduct of Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Children statutory required to provide protection and care of tamariki (children), mokopuna (grandchildren) and young children and adults. A total independent review of health and disability services and structural arrangements has also been undertaken and a final report released in June 2020, at considerable cost to the public, has identified that a new Maori health authority is needed to address health inequalities for tangata whenua which will be discussed later[5] .

  Oranga Tamariki

Since 2017 the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki has had a statutory requirement to give effect in leadership and daily work full recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, a requirement to support the mana and wellbeing of children and for Maori children to have regard for their own whakapapa and connections to their whanau, hapu and iwi. This agency is also required to be transparent and accountable for the outcomes that they achieve for the most vulnerable in our communities and this includes reporting and being transparent on outcomes achieved for tamariki, including outcomes specifically for Maori.  Care and protection of children and young people are also now a shared responsibility and the Chief Executive is required to enter into strategic relationships with iwi and Maori organisations, so Maori children where possible are not placed solely under state care.

Recent independent reviews of Oranga Tamariki have been critical of their relationship and interactions with Maori whanau and the taking of Maori babies from their mothers to be uplifted under the care and protection of this agency without appropriate iwi or Maori organisations involved who could assist with the development of appropriate solutions[6] [7]. These actions have and create considerable trauma for many Maori women, whanau and communities, who fear that once they are under the radar of Oranga Tamariki they are at risk of being under their ongoing monitoring and supervision and if they have had children taken previously and this will affect the wellbeing of future children they may have.

Restorative justice is also part of the responsibilities of this Crown agency under The Children and Young Persons and their Families Act 1989, now renamed Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Family Conferences can be convened where members of a child family or whanau can attend to consider the best interests of the child in accordance with the legislation. The taking away of children from indigenous populations is a common experience globally, and is part of an ongoing process of colonisation and attempts of genocide, for the trauma of all involved is life determining and creates further trauma for ongoing generations.

This Act has paved the way for   institutionalising restorative justice into the framework, policies and processes for abuse to be addressed, for harm to be dealt with, for human rights to be considered and for Maori to become a legitimate partner in the care and protection of their taonga, (treasure) that is there children. This is a Te Tiriti o Waitangi right for Maori, but it has taken this agency almost 20 years to incorporate this fact in their work and therefore, we can ask what degree of physical, spiritual, mental, whanau and economic harm, this government agency and has created in that time span.   

This proposal is not radical but mirrors restorative justice decisions taken in Canada in relation to indigenous children abused under federal care between1960-1980[8] and $750 million was paid out as compensation for indigenous children who were denied care, protection and the right to be indigenous.

Restorative justice is a process which women, children, men, families and whanau should be able to use when they have been adversely harmed by Oranga Tamariki to seek justice and to participate in a process where they can hear and listen to the offender that is the agency and those employed by the agency, to explain their actions. Further for those who are victims, to have the power to be able speak and to outline the harm that has been created by their actions and the ongoing effects in their lives, and following generations.

Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care

 Listening to those who had the courage to speak of their adverse experiences of being under the care of Oranga Tamariki or previously the Department of Social Welfare, through the Royal Commission Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care, the ripple effects of abuse affected all areas of victim lives. Those who spoke in public and in a court situation, sought accountability from those involved in their care and protection, especially those who had lost their whakapapa connections. This was important for Maori, as this affected their cultural, self-identity and their legal right to being Maori.

They also sought access and ownership of their personal information so that they could match their memory with events that had occurred in their lives with information that they had provided previously for their protection, such as being sexually abused or subject to physical violent by those employed to care for them or others in their environment. What people often found was that the information that they had provided some time ago, generally as children or young adults, this had been taken off or misplaced from their personal files, so that now as adults there was no record of the adverse events that had occurred and the right of restorative justice was therefore challenging.[9]

 Restorative justice, this is a process which Maori individuals and whanau should now be able to utilise to address the harm that they have experienced and there is a responsibility for Oranga Tamariki as a Crown agency to be engaged as through their actions, human, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and international indigenous rights have been abused and reparation for damages incurred should now be available.

Definition of Restorative Justice 

For the purposes of this paper, restorative justice  is defined as  “a process to involve to the extent where  possible those who have a stake in a specific offence and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations in order to heal and put things as right as possible”.[10] This definition is used as it included in the Ministry of Justice’s guide to best practice for restorative justice in Aotearoa and defines who can be involved,  the process to occur and outcomes that can be expected to be achieved.

Maori have paved the way for the introduction of restorative justice as it is an indigenous process of addressing grievances between kin and to restore whakapapa connections, respect mana between all parties involved and allows relationships to be healed over time. Many indigenous concepts and process are appropriated by non-indigenous institutions and practitioners and as a concept restorative justice is now incorporated in the Sentencing Act 2002, the Parole Act 2002, Victims’ Rights Act 2002 and the Sentencing Act 2014, which now requires all suitable cases to be referred for restorative justice, before offenders receive their final sentence in the District Court.

 Restorative justice processes should be utilised for Maori to be reimbursed for the intellectual capital and matauranga Maori that justice agencies have taken and used back against Maori. Gifts are given to be used and valued by all to create balance and harmony not abuse and lack of accountability.

Family Violence and Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is also incorporated in the area of family violence which is important in New Zealand as this issue has and is endemic in Aotearoa, now a core part of the work of the Police in responding to call outs, a significant impact on government spending and has a resulted in new legislation, the Family Violence Act 2018, which was enacted in 1 July 2019. This Act has been created to support consistency across agencies in dealing with family violence by the implementation of the use of a set of principles to guide decision- making.

Gender, racial and social and economic inequalities are often at the heart of sexual, domestic and family violence and as a result Maori and Maori women suffer significantly from these intersections of structural discrimination and unconscious bias which affects their opportunities and life paths which can be perused. Maori women experience twice the rate of family violence than NonMaori women and have three times the risk of being killed by an intimate partner.[11]

 Restorative justice process, decisions policies and actions need to be recreated to change structural discrimination against Maori and in particular Maori women and their children who had their own mana, authority and positions of leadership, prior to the arrival of NonMaori. The right to vote for New Zealand women in 1893 did not add mana to wahine Maori as they were already involved in key decisions affecting whanau, hapu and iwi and had their own rights and responsibilities for the care of whenua and other taonga.

Police and Restorative Justice

 Restorative justice is also part of the work of the Police in determining suitable cases for Adult Diversion in which a person may avoid a criminal offence if agreed actions are completed within a defined time frame. Police diversion of low-level offences has provided the opportunity for the establishment of “Te Pae Oranga”, where Police, Iwi and respected members of the community work together on a panel, at the marae or an appropriate venue, such as, in a community organisation, to support those referred to be given a second chance.  Offenders are required to   develop and reflect on their social, ethnic and cultural identity, to be willing to be involved in early intervention, to address troublesome behaviour, such as, uncontrolled anger, issues with alcohol or drug issues, driving offences, petty thief, wilful damage to property, and breaching trespass orders[12].

 Individuals both males and females are interviewed before meeting the Te Pae Oranga panel similar to a pre-conference, to hear the individual’s story as to the events that have occurred, underlying issues and a plan of proposed action to address harm developed for consideration later by the Police where representation is included on the Iwi Panel. Wrap around support is also provided to offenders, so that a recurrence of behaviour does not occur.

 A similar process also occurs for victims involved and a date and time is set for both parties to meet with the Police and Iwi panel leading to recommendations in which the offender is required to meet and complete within a 6 to 8-week period. Wrap around support is also offered and provided to the victim. On completion of the recommendations given by the Police and Iwi Panel, by the offender and support they have available, the matter is resolved and no criminal offence is recorded on the individual’s record.  The focus of Te Pae Oranga is to intervene early with offenders who break the rules to stop this behaviour so a pathway to involvement of Court and justice services is avoided.

The Police adult diversion scheme and Te Pae Oranga are important initiatives for Maori, as intervention can be offered early, support can be provided, whanau are engaged in the process, cultural and self-identify is strengthened and no criminal record means that future employment, study, leadership and travel opportunities are not compromised, Further  there is no involvement of Courts, justice, lawyers  Corrections personnel or agencies involved who benefit significantly economically from Maori offending.

Feedback from those who have been involved in Te Pae Oranga as offenders, victims, family supporters have been extremely positive, in that they have appreciated the process of preparation required to be done before meeting the Iwi Panel, the ability to present their story of events and changes made in their lives and to consider the wisdom and guidance of those on the panel especially Iwi members. Involvement of the Police in being represented on the Panel is seen as positive and addressing offences at a community level, without the involvement of the Court, legal and judicial panel enables more honesty, open dialogue and greater opportunity for people to learn of the consequences of their actions[13].  As a Maori developed intervention, Te Pae Oranga needs to be expanded and be operated not only on marae but in other settings which Maori are in control and can create an environment which is welcoming to offenders and victims and together both are supported through a process of healing, growth and ongoing development.

This initiative however, will likely not reduce significantly offending in the next few years, unless significant investment is made in diversion solutions which are developed by Maori for Maori and the wider community, as the Maori population is predominately young, under 30 years of age, is vibrant, fertile and unemployment for Maori across all age groups is likely to increase. This is due to impact COVID 19 and ongoing after effects, the return of New Zealanders both Maori and nonMaori from overseas and the ongoing displacement of Maori into marginal areas of employment, housing, education and access to limited effective health and social services continues on a daily basis. 

Maori are now a population under considerable stress having to make major adaptions in a local, national and global environments where we have little control and have been delegated to live on the margin, instead of being an equal partner with the Crown and this is clearly defined in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Early research looking at the effectiveness of Te Pae Oranga as a restorative justice process has identified early gains, in that offending may continue for some clients, but the offending is at a lower level offence, and does not require imprisonment.  

A reduction of Maori in days spent in prisons and hospitals is positive and empty beds, provides the possibility of reducing infrastructure and operational costs. Savings gained provides new opportunities to divest in prisons and invest in Iwi, and Maori organisations who can operate such panels with the Police supporting Maori whanau and communities[14].

 We recommend that we develop further diversion opportunities for Maori by Maori, who criminally offend or break rules. This is often related to stress, mental health and addictions issues, developmental issues and intergenerational trauma. The pipeline needs to be strengthened to change the pathway for many Maori which leads to imprisonment.  The pathway to imprisonment largely provides employment for middle- and upper-class professionals, who are supported by academics, occupational groups and tertiary educational institutions which are invested in research, teaching and creation of new employment opportunities which contribute and support ongoing structural hierarchies at the expense of tangata whenua.

 Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2019

 New legislation was introduced last year, to provide an alternative to prosecution for illegal drug use and to provide provision for a person to be diverted to the health and social service sector for health centred and therapeutic care. This is considered in the public’s interest, as this approach would enable more investment in health and social services and a redirection of funding from law enforcement which currently, is funded three times more than the mental health, addiction and health sector. 

It was assumed on passing this legislative change, that this amendment in the public’s interest, would reduce the number of Maori who are criminalised for illegal drug use and would enable Maori to have greater access to mental health and related health and social services support.

Once again, this legislation change has been introduced on the assumption that this would benefit Maori. However, as Maori have not been engaged and empowered to develop their own solutions with appropriate funding and support, to build Maori individually and as members of whanau, hapu and iwi and greater leadership in their communities, this restorative justice initiative has not developed the results so far as would be expected for Maori.

At the same time New Zealanders, are shortly to go to the polls and to elect a new government and to vote on two important referendums.  First proposed is the Cannabis Legislation and Control Bill, which if supported by the public, will enable recreational use of cannabis to become legal. The second referendum is the End of Life Choice Act 2019, giving people with a terminal illness the option of requested assistance with dying. Both referendums have important consequences for Maori, they have been introduced in relation to the public’s interest, not Maori interests. Recreational legalised Cannabis will affect a young vibrant Maori population and their potential for intellectual and spiritual development and the other legislation will shorten the life course for Maori, as tangata whenua receive unequal health outcomes from all areas of the management of chronic health diseases and terminal illnesses.

 Restorative justice initiatives introduced under the disguise of diversion options to support redirection of funding for health and social services or enabling end of life choice for those diagnosed as terminally ill, will create further harm for Maori and tangata whenua again will become victims of policies and legislation created solely in the interests of the public.

 Hokai Rangi: A New Government Strategy to Reduce Maori Imprisonment

 There is now a need for Investment in Maori and how we live as members of whanau, hapu, iwi and participants in diverse communities to support the Government’s latest strategy “Hokai Rangi”. This Government strategy led out by the Minister of Corrections Hon. Kelvin Davis, aims to reduce Maori imprisonment from 52% to 16% to mirror Maori representation in the national population. 

Re investment in whanau, hapu and iwi and whanau development needs to be a number one priority, at the expense of investing in prisons, Court, judges, legal profession, Corrections. specialist mental health and social service expertise. Current investment depletes those already depleted creating a negative spiral of losses in the development of people, leading to underdevelopment of Aotearoa.

Maori women and restorative justice

Hokai Rangi as a Government endorsed strategy focuses on Maori imprisonment, but it is silent on Maori female imprisonment which currently accounts for 62% of female imprisonment in Aotearoa. Police diversion and Te Pae Oranga are important restorative processes for Maori women for wahine Maori are structured in New Zealand society to be at the bottom and to give others a chance to succeed above wahine Maori at their cost.

Restorative justice processes and criminal offending are processes that Maori women are often involved in supporting partners, members of whanau, hapu and iwi but their effectiveness in healing Maori women lives are still to be researched for the focus is generally on addressing the behaviour of men and their development.

More Maori women who come before the Police or other Crown agencies for offending or abuse, should have the opportunity of diversion, such as panels like Te Pae Oranga, which may be made up of wise and mature women of their kin and community who can understand and appreciate the challenges in their lives, where society is stacked against them and their children to achieve and flourish.

Research undertaken by the Maori Women’s Welfare League in 1984, identified that stress and anxiety was a major issue for wahine Maori and through their life they play different roles and responsibilities in the development of themselves as young women, being mothers and carers of children and family members, becoming involved in the community as they age and developing specific roles and responsibilities on the marae and in the community. Maori women play a key role in supporting the transfer of tikanga Maori and cultural knowledge from one generation to another. These roles and responsibilities are different from the roles that NonMaori women play in their communities[15].

This needs to be appreciated where conflict in identity and adaption to living in both worlds, Maori and NonMaori can create stress and behaviour which can lead to offending, abuse of drugs, problem gambling, mental health and wider family and social issues.

  There is a need for the development of diversion restorative justice processes and initiatives which are developed by Maori women for Maori women and their children to address the effects of white racism and white feminism which creates barriers for the advancement and development of Maori women, as wahine Maori have defined Te Tiriti o Waitangi rights, their own mana and their own whakapapa.

Restorative Justice and Tikanga Maori

Restorative Justice as defined by the Ministry of Justice is now a process which has embraced and integrated Maori values in the process. To be a restorative justice facilitator requires the person either Maori or NonMaori to have a full understanding and ability to live and practice Maori values in their daily life. The values are:

  • Pono – to be truthful, honest and sincere
  •  Tika – to be able to things in the right way
  • Aroha– to be able to feel compassion, caring and empathy for others
  • Mana– to be able to enable people to achieve motuhake and self determination
  • Manaakitanga– to show respect and care for others
  • Aharurutanga– to be able to provide a place of warmth and safety

 These values are required to be key in the process of restorative justice as well as to utilise the following whakatauki in engagement of the process. The whakatauki is: 

He aha te mea nui o te ao

 He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

 What is the most important thing in the world

 It is people, it is people, it is people

 In adopting such values and vision for restorative justice in Aotearoa, it would be expected that these values are also an integral part of how Courts, Justice, Corrections, Police, Health, Education, Child Protection, and Social Services which incorporate restorative justice, patients’ and Maori rights in the health, disability and accident related sectors. This is important so that there is not an “us and them approach”. Instead we have an approach of working collectively together not in silos, but integrated to achieve a common vision that is the development of people, utilising the values that Maori have ancestrally learnt and transfer from one generation to another.

These values are in many respects universal and are shared across many populations and religions supporting the Te Whare Tapu Wha model which Maori have developed and now is accepted and endorsed by the majority of nonMaori living in Aotearoa as a framework to achieve and maintain good health. This model of health has been endorsed in the various mental health, justice and legal reviews which have been undertaken in Aotearoa. The model was developed in the 1980s by Maori and highlights the length of time bureaucratic institutions take to change.

This model of health is also seen as a pathway to wellbeing as people working together can nurture the growth of others and acts as kaitiaki or protectors of the whenua (land) awa, (rivers) moana (sea) and species that lives within these environments. [16] Restorative justice in New Zealand as a concept that has now moved forward to focus not only on reparation to repair the damage but to do more for both offenders and victims that is to support them to both recover and achieve wellbeing.

Our connections to each other and the wider environments we live in and are dependent upon balance and harmony. This is an ongoing process of negotiation between Maori with the Crown in different forums for restorative justice for Maori. This is an ongoing issue of healing, harmony, balance and restoration and it takes place daily in any sector of Government and Crown agencies, affecting policy development, design and implementation of legislation, resource decisions, management and governance. These relationships and interactions are underpinned by our founding constitutional document Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

This document gives rights and responsibilities to be met by the Crown, its agencies and also for Maori as individuals and members of whanau, hapu and iwi.   To ensure that Crown agencies are Pono and Tika, restorative justice requires Crown agencies and whom they contract with to be regularly reviewed, audited and monitored independently and transparently by Maori and Iwi so that ongoing harmony, balance and appropriate development for Maori and NonMaori is achieved and maintained.

 Te Triti o Waitangi needs to be at the heart and centre of restorative justice, part of the training, skill development and knowledge of those who are accredited as restorative justice facilitators, so that Maori, Crown agencies and its agents can interact with each other as equal partners. Harm can then be addressed and resolved which builds relationships based upon Maori values which define the process and outcomes expected of restorative justice in Aotearoa.

 Crown agencies and agents that act on behalf of the Crown need to be reviewed and audited by Maori on a regular basis, to ensure that they embody all of their decisions, the vision and values of restorative justice and to achieve positive development   for all tangata so that peace, harmony and justice occurs in Aotearoa.

Public Funding and Independent Reviews

Considerable public funding has now been invested in numerous independent reviews over the past three years commissioned by the Labour and New Zealand First Government, as mentioned to provide advice and recommendations to create transformational changes, often described as “once in a generation opportunity”, to look, reflect and to create a new system. Restorative justice processes have been involved in the methodology of these reviews, seeking input from vulnerable and marginalised populations and Maori, wanting to hear their lived experience to improve the effectiveness of Crown services and achieve defined outcomes, as national targets. Those involved in conducting these reviews have been led by recognised esteemed leaders and academics in our country, utilising their professional skills, knowledge and research.

Collectively, the findings of these reviews and recommendations proposed have many similarities, in that they have all have reported that Crown publicly funded systems as Justice, Family Court, mental health and addiction services and Corrections are not operating as the public would expect and this is especially so, for Maori and other vulnerable marginalised populations creating adverse outcomes in their lives.

Despite the fact that many Crown statutory agencies are now required by statute to consider Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities in all of their statutory responsibilities, meet New Zealand and international human rights responsibilities, meet expected public sector best practices and have audit systems in place. It seems that currently, Maori are invisible or ignored when key decisions are made. It is now accepted as a fact that structured racial discrimination exists daily in New Zealand. This discrimination is both explicit and implicit, the latter now called unconscious bias, resulting in adverse outcomes for tangata whenua and widening health, economic and social disparities.

Having defined legal professional and management accountabilities to be met by Crown agencies, it is disappointing that Crown agencies are not operating as required and how the public would expect. This opens the way now for Maori to seek restorative justice as victims and to meet with offenders, that is Crown agencies and its agents, to hear and listen from them first hand “Kanohi ki te Kanohi” (face to face) and to listen as to the reasons why Maori were not visible and prioritised as the population to be considered in all governance, management and professional decisions. This is important so that Maori as victims of discrimination can articulate the effects of their exclusion of not being visible or allowed to be involved in decision making to voice in their own words, emotions, feelings and actions, of the harm that has been created in their lives and will continue in future generations unless redressed.

Intergenerational trauma and post-traumatic stress, premature death mental illness and addictions, suicide are all outcomes that Maori experience from traumatic harm and which requires acknowledgement by the offender and reparation for damages occurred.

Restorative justice is a process that Maori and those harmed by Crown agencies and personnel acting outside or unconsciously of their statutory responsibilities and requirements can meet through a structured and managed restorative justice conference to hear and listen to both parties’ stories and to work through outcomes which are agreeable to both parties of the harm that has occurred and how this may be addressed as defined and articulated by the victims involved.   

This should be seen as next step and evolution of restorative justice in Aotearoa in not just dealing with the individual offender and victim who are often both victims of legislation, policy decisions and programs funded and operationalised by Crown agencies and their staff unable to meet fully their statutory responsibilities.

Policing and Armed Response Teams

The Armed Response Unit was introduced in Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury, October 2019, on the rationale that it would allow high risk events to be deescalated and defused with minimum force involved.  Each unit consisted of three or more experienced officers with armed offenders’ squad (AOS) expertise and these teams were used in peak hours. They were introduced with no consultation to the communities in which they would operate, no engagement with Maori and the introduction occurred as an initiative created by the Police with no formal approval given by Government or the Cabinet process.

Having Police with arms in the community is a sensitive issue for Maori as Maori are more likely to be more adversely effective by armed Police, resulting in injury and death. The locations chosen by the Police included two areas, Counties Manukau and Waikato which Maori and Pacific populations are significantly resident and also recent migrants. These areas were chosen by the Police on the rationale that they had the highest number of firearms seized, located and surrendered. However, after reviewing the Official Information Data, it has been identified that firearms were less than 1 % of alleged assaults on Police.

For a six-month trial period Police data reported for the three areas the Armed Response Units attended, 8629 incidences have been described and defined as 3Ts- a stop, search of car or person, bail checks. Other incidences were family harm, arrest warrants and investigating suspicious people or cars and thus generally policing.

 After a change in leadership of the Police, the Armed Response Units have been disbanded and the new Police Commissioner Andy Coster has stated that ARTS are not the style of policing New Zealand want. The role of Police of enforcement and first frontline responders in relation to indigenous and other populations who experience systematic and systemic racism is now a global matter, leading to individuals, families and whanau fearful of the Police and are reluctant to seek their assistance if need is required.

 Restorative justice needs to be offered by to those who were victims of the Armed Response Units as they were created with no formal Cabinet approval by the Government and the initiative was implemented by the Police and no consideration was given of this Crown agency’s responsibilities Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities and Maori national international human rights.

 COVID- 19 Public Health Response Act 2020

 The law enforcement role of the Police is now broadening in communities following COVID- 19 and the development of new legislation giving the Minister of Health, Director- General of Health and other Ministers considerable powers to manage further waves  of possible transmission of COVID- 19, or any threat to the health and wellbeing of the population, such as the flow on effects of  a country where the political, economic and social infrastructure is increasingly becoming unstable and access to resources as food, water, shelter and  health and medical services is constrained created by racism, sexism  class discrimination and rapid  increase of migrants to this country.

In responding to the threat of COVID- 19 infection, Maori have been criticised for being proactive in taking a leadership role in their communities and tribal boundaries protecting those in their whanau, hapu and communities and determining who can enter into their rohe (tribal area). The legislation has totally ignored Maori in Aotearoa, there is no mention of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, or Maori statutory bodies as Te Kaunihera o Aotearoa  ( New Zealand Maori Development Council ) or Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development, legally responsible to facilitate  Maori achievement in health, education, employment and other areas and to ensure Crown delivered and purchased services are adequate and suitable for Maori, being involved in a leadership role of determining  rules for public health protection and Maori protection.

The new Act is now waiting to be used as COVID-19 spreads globally creating community transmission, infection and deaths at a level not experienced since the global flu endemic in 1918 and onwards. New Zealand borders are currently closed other than for New Zealanders requesting to come home and to comply with quarantine requirements.   Looking back and forward, this new legislation is another form of the Government developing legislation for the protection of the public and the right to use the Police to enter people’s home without a warrant and impose infringement orders, which can result in a person   having a criminal record, affecting their future life course. 

The Act gives considerable power to the Police in how they interact in a community, neighbourhood and in a family situation. Maori are invisible in this Act, so no consideration has been given to the effects of this power on tangata whenua who are over policed as we are seen always as potential offenders. The drafting of this legislation and approval of it by the current Government and then hearing submissions from the public during lockdown, highlights that Maori are constantly in a position to having to educate and inform politicians and senior public servants of their legal responsibilities to tangata whenua.

 Restorative justice needs to be undertaken with Maori statutory and Crown agencies as well as Iwi leaders as to how do we manage our boarders as a country and within Aotearoa, to ensure protection and safety for health and wellbeing of tangata whenua and the general public. Maori are innovative and understand a public health approach and management of global and national crisis matters, such as a threat of communicable and non-communicable diseases and water.

  Purongo Whakamutunga: Health and Disability Review

 The New Zealand health and disability system and our Accident Compensation Corporation are often envied by other countries and people who do not have access to[LD1]   primary medical, hospital, disability, mental health and rehabilitation services significantly funded by publicly or by indirect taxation.   New Zealand’s health and disability services has evolved over time with inequalities increasingly now becoming visible for Maori and those who are unable to speak or heard when they advocate that health, disability and accident related services are no working for them and they need to be co designed with individuals, families and whanau as a one size fits all no longer works.

The release of the review of findings of the expert group established to provide advice and direction of the next stage of evolution of health and disability services has found that current structural arrangements of district health boards across the country are no longer appropriate. Further, that there is a need to having professional management and governance of services of district health boards, rather than elected community leaders and a reduction in number of boards. If the findings of the review team are implemented as planned over a 5 to 20 year time period for the next generation, we can expect to see greater centralisation, less bureaucracy, ring fenced funding for defined services, for the Ministry of Health to be reduced in function, a public health advisory committee to be established to ensure public health matters are not lost sight of in the provision of medical and related health services and the establishment of a Maori Health Authority. It has also been recommended that a charter be established with defined values and principles to shape and form a shared culture across the health and disability sector, to address racial, sexual and employment abuse in the health and disability sector.

The review team has also recommended that Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, be reviewed to keep abreast with recent Waitangi Tribunal decisions in the health and related sectors, the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and other human rights which apply to tangata whenua.

The release of the report, findings and recommendations proposed by the Review Team are important for Maori as they provide the foundation and the evidence to support the implementation of restorative justice in the health and disability and also the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) although not the review, but Maori are affected by ACC services purchased and delivered in the public health sector.

The Review team has made a clear statement that “Maori health outcomes are significantly worse than those for other New Zealanders and reflects a failure of the health and disability system and does not reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi commitments”. The review team also accepted that racism and sexual structural discrimination operates in the health and disability system to the disadvantaged of Maori and many are harmed or wounded by this system. This fact and the findings of the review team have been accepted by the current Labour and NZ First Government that significant changes need to be made in the New Zealand health and disability sector to address and redress structural inequalities that affect Maori throughout their life course. It is recognised that the structural inequalities affect other marginalised and discriminated populations but for Maori the health, disability and accident related sectors, they have specific legal responsibilities to be met for tangata whenua. To move forward the harm created of the abuse inflicted on Maori needs to be addressed through restorative justice and reparation provided by the offender, that is the Crown, for its intergenerational trauma and the cost of not actively preventing the transfer of this trauma to the future generations net yet seen.

  Restorative justice as a process and is legal right for Maori to enter into as a process of restorative justice with the Crown as the offender for its ongoing abuse of maintaining structural discrimination against tangata whenua.

 Restorative justice process can also be utilised by other populations if they are affected by abuse created by the Crown.

Maori Health Authority

 The Maori Health Authority was proposed but not endorsed by all members of the Review Team. This typifies the general views of New Zealanders, that we should not treat or have separate arrangements for tangata whenua despite their advocacy and desire for a system that works for Maori. This is important for the current generation of Maori who are are young, vibrant, many are educated, many want to return home and they do not want to live the lives of their parents or relatives that have been abused and mistreated by Crown agencies on the assumption that they know what is best for them.

The   proposed Maori Health Authority as proposed by some members of the review team can be seen as an olive branch to tangata whenua and acknowledgement that the current system is not working and to accelerate change a new body governed and directed by Maori is required.  It is proposed that this body should have multiple roles on establishment  access to Vote Health and ACC funding, the ability to purchase and co design service  for Maori with mainstream service providers, establish their own public health infrastructure as a Maori Public Health Advisory Body, undertake independent auditing and monitoring of services to assess their effectiveness for Maori, be involved in policy and legislation design and implementation so that unintentional consequences which are adverse for Maori are reduced as far as possible. The Maori Health Authority should also be able to receive funding from other Crown agencies as Oranga Tamariki, Police, Justice, Corrections and Ministry of Primary Industries for any decisions made in any sector of Government policy and purchasing has flow on effects for tangata whenua.

This realisation has become visible in the prevention of community transmission of COVID- 19 and the management of our national borders and the question when do we open, with whom and what possible cost to human health, health of the environment and overall economy.  

 The Review Team reviewing New Zealand’s health and disability system has provided useful evidence for change, structural changes cannot be made without policy, legislation and funding changes. Maori no longer  should  be asked or segregated  to sit on the side line and watch and wait for Cabinet decisions to be made instead, the first step before any wider structural changes are made should be to create the Maori Health Authority  representing Maori interest to have a direct input and  to have the same status as the Ministry of Health in providing expert policy advice and legislative design in the reengineering  of our New Zealand public health and disability system following the complex review undertaken and COVID-19 experience so that both Maori and the Crown are fit for purpose to address any other issues which occur expected or unexpected.

 The Maori Health Authority should be established as the first step to address and create new structural changes in the health, disability and accident related sectors and to be involved as   an equal partner as the Ministry of Health in provision of expert advice, in policy, legislative design and resource decisions to create a future health service fit for purpose for Maori and NonMaori.

Conclusion

This paper has been prepared to provide voices on the importance of restorative justice to address harm that has occurred intentionally or unintentionally by Crown agencies that have acted illegally or ignored the significance of their statutory responsibilities. Restorative justice as a process needs to evolve further in New Zealand to be of relevance to tangata whenua, to address and redress the big issues in their lives to prevent ongoing trauma for future generations.

We have an infrastructure in place and Maori now trained and experienced and recognised as restorative justice facilitators. They now need to be engaged by the Crown as being independent to facilitate a process between offender and victim to have pre-conferences and restorative justice conferences to address harm occurred, reparation required to address harm and outcomes to be achieved for the offender to address taking responsibility for behaviour, and lastly, the process to be documented for openness and transparency.   Furthermore, the offender needs to be held accountable for delivery on outcomes to avoid legal prosecution and an ongoing criminal record.

Ehara taku toa te toa takitahi engari

 he toa takimano

 My strength is not of an individual but that of the collective

Bibliography

Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction ( 2018) He Ara Oranga, https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/inquiry-report/he-ara-oranga/www.mental

Lunggen D. (7 October 2017). Canada to compensate aboriginal children removed for families. ttps://www.reuters.com/article/uk-canada-aboriginal/canada-to-compensate-aboriginal-children-removed-from-families-idUKKBN1CB244

Ministry of Justice. (2015). Strengthening New Zealand’s legislative response to family violence A public discussion document. Wellington: Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Justice ( 2019) Te Korowai Turea Whanau The final report of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/family-justice-reforms-final-report-independent-panel.pdf

Ministry of Justice ( 2019)  Turuki Turuki Moving Together https://www.safeandeffectivejustice.govt.nz/assets/dfbbd11a5d/MOJ1012_Report_Accessibility_AW6.pdf

Morris A (2002) Critiquing the Critics: A Brief Response to Critics of Restorative Justice, British Journal of Criminology,42,596-615,

Ministry of Justice (2011) Restorative Justice Best Practice in New Zealand, Ministry of Justice https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/RJ-Best-practice.pdf

New Zealand Health and Disability Review ( 2020)” Health and Disability System Review Final Report  Purongo Whakamutunga”, https://systemreview.health.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/hdsr/health-disability-system-review-final-report.pdf

Office of the Children’s Commissioner (2020) “Te Kuku o Te Manawa”, Office of the Children’s Commissioner https://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/TKTM-JUNE2020-Final.pdf

Pahi C   (August 2020 ) More  re- offending but less harm from marae based justicehttps://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114705546/more-reoffending-but-less-harm-from-maraebased-justice-scheme

Pitama, S Huria T, Lacey C ( 2014) Improving Maori Health through Clinical assessment Waikare o te Waka o Meihana y 2014, Vol 127 No 1393; ISSN 1175 8716, pg 107-144.

 http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/127-1393/6108/ ©NZMA

Tokalau T (2019) Human barricade protecting uplift at Waitakere Hospital stuff.co.nz/national/121808417/human-barricade-protesting-baby-uplifts-at-waitkere-hospital, June 13, 2020


[1]  Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction ( 2018) He Ara Oranga, https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/inquiry-report/he-ara-oranga/www.mental

[2]  Ministry of Justice ( 2019) Te Korowai Turea Whanau The final report of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/family-justice-reforms-final-report-independent-panel.pdf

[3]  Ministry of Justice ( 2019)  Turuki Turuki Moving Together https://www.safeandeffectivejustice.govt.nz/assets/dfbbd11a5d/MOJ1012_Report_Accessibility_AW6.pdf

[4]  The  Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Abuse in Care is ongoing and has not reported https://www.abuseincare.org.nz/.

[5] New Zealand Health and Disability Review ( 2020)” Health and Disability System Review Final Report  Purongo Whakamutunga”, https://systemreview.health.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/hdsr/health-disability-system-review-final-report.pdf

[6]  Tokalau  T ( 2019)  Human barricade protecting uplift at Waitakere Hospital stuff.co.nz/national/121808417/human-barricade-protesting-baby-uplifts-at-waitkere-hospital, June 13 , 2020

[7]  Office of the Children’s Commissioner ( 2020 ) “Te Kuku o Te Manawa”, Office of the Children’s Commissioner https://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/TKTM-JUNE2020-Final.pdf

[8]Lunggen D. (7 October 2017). Canada to compensate aboriginal children removed for families. ttps://www.reuters.com/article/uk-canada-aboriginal/canada-to-compensate-aboriginal-children-removed-from-families-idUKKBN1CB244.

[9]  L Dyall attended the public hearings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, held in Auckland 29 October-8 November 2019 and witnessed survivors of abuse present their evidence of abuse and impact on their lives.

[10]  Morris A (2002) Critiquing the Critics : A Brief Response to Critics of Restorative Justice, British Journal of Criminology,42,596-615, pg 60 ,  cited in the Ministry of Justice ( 2011) Restorative Justice Best Practice in New Zealand, Ministry of Justicehttps://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/RJ-Best-practice.pdf

[11] Ministry of Justice. (2015). Strengthening New Zealand’s legislative response to family violence A public discussion document. Wellington: Ministry of Justice https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law/user_uploads/fv-consultation-discussion-document-v2.pdf.

[12] Panels now operate in Auckland City, Waitemata, South Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Rotorua, Gisborne, Hastings, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Christchurch and Invercargill.

[13]   Dyall L (2020) has reviewed internally the feedback from offender, victims that have utilized Te Pae Oranga at Orakei Marae or the Whanau Ora Clinic, Manukau on their feedback and satisfaction with the process from Police diversion to completion of the process and  completion of outcomes agreed to avoid sentencing.

[14]  Pahi C More  re- offending but less harm from marae based, 10 August 2020, justicehttps://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114705546/more-reoffending-but-less-harm-from-maraebased-justice-scheme

[15] Murchie, E. (1984). Rapuora Health and Maori Women, Maori Women’s Welfare League, Maori Women’s Welfare League

[16]  Pitama, S Huria T, Lacey C (2014) Improving Maori Health through Clinical assessment Waikare o te Waka o Meihana y 2014, Vol 127 No 1393; ISSN 1175 8716, pg 107-144.

 http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/127-1393/6108/ ©NZMA


 [LD1]

https://youtu.be/rq9dvEv-mps

20 speakers explore RJ in youth justice

RJ in Schools

Throughout RJ World 2020, we are proud to have many speakers from around the world showcasing their RJ innovations, programs, research, and work. A key reminder, which will be illustrated over the course of the econference, is the reality that RJ has influence and credibility worldwide and in every stage of the criminal justice system, including before crime itself even occurs. This extends to every stage of the criminalisation process. As such, RJ as a philosophy for addressing deviant behaviour can be incorporated into key facets of society, such as the schooling system. RJ goes beyond just addressing what is perceived as crime, and can influence and shape even things like student behavioural management methods.

During RJ World key presenters – including teachers, principals, and coordinators – will share their experiences and practices around RJ in the schools around the world. A key priority of RJ is the recognition and respect for human relationship and the power of storytelling. Just like adult offenders, children engaging in antisocial behaviour and various levels of crime need the emotional and relational support and direction that a RJ vision can bring.

“Restorative processes include victim-offender mediation, conferencing and circles; restorative outcomes include apology, amends to the victim and amends to the community.”

Daniel Van Ness, 2005

Presenters speaking on the topic of RJ in schools will include (but not be limited to):

Adam Voigt (AU), Michelle Stowe (IRE), Laura Mooiman (NL), Margaret Thorseborne (AU), David Vinegrad (AU), Mark Goodwin (UK), Eric Rainey (USA), Lee Rush (USA), Lamika Wilson (USA), Gail Quigley (AU), Dr Maija Gellin (Finland), Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK), Monica Alberti (UK), Anna Gregory (UK), Terence Bevington (UK), Dr Angela Monell (USA), Moana Emett (NZ), Talma Shultz (USA)

Visit the youth justice stream…


The voice of the victim – especially that of a child – is often suppressed, or ignored, in the typical criminal justice system. However, as we begin the second decade of the twentieth century, there is reason and cause to conclude that RJ will increasingly feature in justice responses, especially in areas like child and youth offending. Tune in and hear these speakers, as they discuss what that looks like in the local and international context!

Meet: CLAIR ALDINGTON, our artmaking restorative justice practitioner

Drawing from Clair’s sketchbooks

The magic of co-creation (making with others), design and gifting in situations of transition, harm and conflict…

Clair works as a creative practitioner alongside her profession as an accredited restorative justice practitioner. She is based in Scotland, where she combines her artmaking practice with her Restorative Justice work. From 2001-2007, she worked with Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service, England.

Space2face RJ Arts Oranisation

Currently, Clair channels her skills into the Restorative Arts Organisation, called Space2face in Shetland, Scotland. What is Space2face, you may ask? Well, I’m glad you ask:

Space2face logo

This is how they introduce themselves on their website:

“Space2face is a restorative justice arts charity and a confidential and independent service. We work with those who’ve been harmed (victims) by crime and conflict, those responsible for causing harm (offenders) through crime and conflict, as well as all others affected by what has happened – the families and communities linked to those primarily involved.”

In 2016, Space2face received a Restorative Practice UK Award for their creative approaches to restorative justice (criminal justice category). And the best: Space2face is for EVERYONE! The organisation promises, “You don’t have to be creative or arty to use our service! We’ve just learned that through making, talking about difficult things is sometimes easier.” Definitely look through their page if this interests you: Space2face!

What is Clair going to share with us in her presentation?

Drawing Clair’s sketchbooks

Clair is in the final year of her PhD, which investigates whether a handmade gifted object can enable connections, or moments of convergence and solidarity across the space between people in Restorative Justice. …So basically, that means that she is researching the potential of self-made objects to connect people, in context of Restorative Justice.

In her workshop, she will share with us pieces from her PhD research in Restorative Justice and Design. It will quickly become evident, that Clair is very interested in language. Therefore, she is going to examine some of the words and phrases she has gathered to begin a discussion around language for speaking about the narratives of convergence (from ‘com’ – with, together + ‘vergere’ – to bend, turn, tend toward).

Peerie Boxes. A miniature exhibition curated with artist Kristi Tait, in partnership with Laura, a lady living with dementia

As part of the talk, Clair will show handmade objects gifted between participants in Restorative Justice encounters. Looking at these objects, you will hear through the artwork, the voices of the creators, and the moments of convergence they enabled, in part, through their objects. …”HEARING voices” through OBJECTS? This will truly be a holistic tickle for – at least two of- our senses!

Hungry to learn more about our wonder-full Clair? Click here: http://www.clairaldington.com/ This link is the entrance door to her fascinating projects, more pictures of her stunning drawings and you can even get a glimpse into her personal sketchbooks! Oh, and last but not least: Clair also runs her own scientifically-artsy blog!

Restorative cities: Perspectives on current models at RJ World

Two of our speakers examine the progress in restorative cities.

Prof. Grazia Mannozzi

Grazia Mannozzi is professor of “Criminal Law” and of “Restorative Justice and Victim-offender Mediation” at the University of Insubria (Como – Italy).She is the Director of the Restorative Justice and Mediation Study Centre (CeSGReM) at the same University her research activity, she has mainly focused, always from a comparative perspective, on sentencing system, restorative justice, economic crimes, corruption, corporate liability, law and language. From speaking at several national and international conferences to working as honorary judge at the Court for the Enforcement of Sentences of Venice and Milan, her numerous accomplishments speak for her incredible work.

In the field of Restorative Justice she coordinated the thematic table on “Restorative justice, victim protection and mediation” as part of the General Assembly on enforcement of sanction instituted by the Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando She is also a Member of the Legislative Commission to reform the enforcement of punishment and establish a normative frame for restorative justice

Her main publications, translated in several language, are on restorative justice, sentencing and corruption. In 2017, she published the first Italian handbook of restorative justice, titled “La giustizia riparativa. Formanti, parole e metodi”, Giappichelli, Torino (with Giovanni A. Lodigiani).

You can read her article titled “The emergence of the idea of a ‘restorative city’ and its link to restorative justice” in the International Journal of Restorative Justice here –https://www.elevenjournals.com/tijdschrift/TIJRJ/2019/2/IJRJ_2589-0891_2019_002_002_006

As former Chair of the EFRJ Working Group on ‘Restorative City’, her presentation is a dialogue on “restorative cities” in an ideal passing of the baton between the first Chair of the EFRJ Working Group on Restorative Cities and the current one. The conversation focuses on: a) the conceptual transition from restorative justice theory to the elaboration of the idea of “restorative cities”; b) the reasons for the “restorative cities” issue has become a pivotal theme in the action of the EFRJ and has led to the foundation of a Working Group (which has brought together experts from different disciplines and restorative cities realities).

Research Fellow on Restorative Justice Programme, Gian Luigi Lepri and Chiara Perini,associate professor of Criminal law and Restorative Justice at University of Insubria (Italy) will be presenting with her.After presenting the main examples of “restorative cities” that have developed concretely in Europe, the speakers will try to apply the SWOT Analysis to the “restorative cities” projects, evaluating their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The goal is to contribute to the work planning of the EFRJ Working Group and all those involved in promoting “restorative cities

To find out more about their interesting mission visithttps://www.euforumrj.org/en/working-group-restorative-cities

This video sums up EFRJ’s agenda on Building Restorative Cities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJIuBVT-GRA

Chris Straker

Co-founder of the Hull Centre for Restorative Practice in 2007. During his leadership there, The Hull Centre became known nationally as ‘progressive’ in restorative practice and its application across agencies working with families and young people.

Chris has drawn on this experience to develop training in restorative practice. He is also the Director, Lead Trainer and Consultant atRestorative Thinking Limited, UK. Chris is co-author of Restorative Thinking’s Secondary Curriculum Programme. As a Director with Restorative Thinking Limited, Chris supports Restorative Thinking’s strategic direction. He is the Lead Trainer and supports all of Restorative Thinking Limited’s work strands. In addition to multiple responsibilities and talks nationally and internationally, he has worked with cities on strategic, city-wide, implementation. He has written two chapters for the recent publication by EFRJ on restorative cities.

Exploring the myths behind the restorative city concept. Chris will use the UK as a backdrop for participants to explore their own ideas on what a restorative city means for them. Context is everything but there are some models he will use to create the opportunity for dialogue.

He addresses the question “Is the restorative city concept a move towards a new paradigm or just Emperor’s new clothes?”

His workshop explores the concept of right relationships (between professionals and professionals, and the professional and families they work with) and how best to develop these by an explicit dialogue; not only around our areas of agreement, but also our areas of difference. It will look to see how restorative processes can be used to deepen relationships at a city-wide level by an explicit and shared understanding of behaviours and language.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @strakerchrishttps://twitter.com/strakerchris?lang=en and know more about his work athttps://www.euforumrj.org/en/working-group-restorative-cities

Written by RJ World guest authors Konina and Anwesha

Konina Mandal is an Assistant Lecturer at Jindal Global Law School, O.P Jindal Global University, India. Her research interests include criminology and criminal justice, criminal laws and corrections. She will be co-presenting with Anwesha Panigrahi, Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School,Hyderabad, India.

Anwesha Panigrahi is presently positioned as an Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad, India. She has an LLM in Criminal Justice, Family and Social Welfare. Her research interests include criminal justice, prison jurisprudence and prison laws, corrections, criminal laws and procedure. She will be co-presenting with Ms. Konina Mandal.