Restorative Practice: Repairing Damaged Relationships

Restorative practice is a strategy that seeks to repair relationships that have been damaged, including those damaged through bullying. It does this by bringing about a sense of remorse and restorative action on the part of the offender and forgiveness by the victim.

The NED Board has an interest in encouraging and supporting the adoption of Restorative Justice practices in Australia. The founder of NED, Ned Iceton was instrumental in bringing the value of this work to the attention of the NED community. The board has asked Mary Porter AM, to continue promoting and advancing knowledge of Restorative Justice in Australia and internationally. Mary has provided an outline of how her own involvement in Restorative Justice came about, and the work she and her husband Ian De Landelles perform under the auspices of the board.

Below we link you through to some online material that may assist you in understanding the importance of this aspect of our work.

An outline of my involvement with Restorative Justice.

Mary Porter AM
September 2016

I recently retired as an MLA with the ACT Government and moved to Murrays Beach NSW with my husband Ian De Landelles. As some who have been connected with the network for a while may know I have had an interest in Restorative Justice for a long time.

In the early 1990s Ned Iceton first became aware of the work being undertaken in Australia by Terry O' Connell and decided that he would like to both encourage and support this work and promote its adoption through his community development work.

My husband, Ian De Landelles was fortunate to be funded to attend a Restorative Justice conference in Canada in 2001.

He and I visited Terry in his home in NSW, and also met Matt Casey who now works in the ACT.

U.K

Ian met Charles Pollard, then Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police Service, Oxford, UK. Charles, soon to become Sir Charles, invited Ian and I to visit his Service and spend some time with his 5 strong Restorative Justice Unit and for me to work with his members to assist them with their Volunteers in Policing Program. Later, I had experience in assisting the ACT Police Service set up its Volunteer in Policing Program.

Sir Charles Pollack's Police Service was the beneficiary of the enthusiasm and commitment to Restorative Justice of Jack Straw, the then UK Home Secretary. Jack Straw had seen the affect an Restorative Justice conference had had on the perpetrator of a crime and those who suffered as a result.  He compared what he perceived as the positive and healing effects on all parties and compared that to the experience of a young offender going through the court process.

Jack Straw decided that the then Government should fund the effort to grow Restorative Justice in the UK.

We were most impressed with the breadth of the work being undertaken in the Thames Valley where it was applied in many different areas such as community and neighbourhood disputes, in the Education setting and Justice system.  Additionally, it was being applied to complaints against the Police Service itself and internal conflict in the Service.

 

Canberra

Prior to that, and on my return, I undertook a great deal of promotion of the application of Restorative Justice, both in education and justice settings in Canberra, in my role as the former CEO of Volunteering ACT, and then in the last 11 years as an MLA, prior to my retirement earlier this year.

I was fortunate to see some success for my efforts through my government, at one stage chairing an Assembly Inquiry into the application of Restorative Justice in education and justice settings. The Inquiry was extended for some months and its recommendations encouraged the application of Restorative Justice in both settings.

I was able to influence the initiative of Restorative Justice across the education system and see legislation go through the House which saw the introduction of Restorative Justice for juveniles caught up in the justice system, involving Caucasian and Indigenous young people.  I also lobbied the then Attorney to get funds allocated in the ACT budget to employ Indigenous Guidance Officers to assist Indigenous young offenders and encourage their involvement. This saw dramatic reductions in reoffending and incarceration, particularly of Indigenous young people which have always unfortunately been over represented in young people in juvenile detention.

Lately, the ACT Government has legislated for phases 3 and 4 of the application of what I will refer to as Restorative Practice, to allow its application in serious, sexual and domestic violence offences.

More recently again the ACT Government has decided to move towards establishing Canberra as a Restorative City. This will mean the introduction of Restorative Practice across all aspects of Government and its uptake across the wider community.

 

Central Coast

My interest and commitment to Restorative Practice continues into my retirement and I have appreciated the support of Ned Iceton over many years, and the support and commitment of the Board of NED Inc.

I am privileged to be president of the NED Board and it has asked me to continue promoting and having discussions about Restorative Justice practice in the area my husband I now live, to ascertain how NED Inc can support its application here.

I am pleased to have made some good contacts through a good friend who once worked in a community legal service in Newcastle and now doing similar work in Brisbane.

I have contacted members of the Law faculty at the Newcastle University who I believe have a strong interest in the application of Restorative Practice and look forward to meetings arranged for the next few weeks.

I look forward to these meetings and am also pleased to contact a former resident of this area who has recently moved back to Scotland where he and his wife are expecting a first grandchild. He has a keen interest in seeing the wider application of Restorative Practice and has recently, or is about to have, his academic work in this area published.

 

Continuing

I am encouraged by these latest developments and meanwhile I continue to keep in touch with Terry O'Connell and Matt Casey and there is a meeting planned with them early in 2017.