Spinning plates – moving beyond the story……
Working in Restorative Justice
Drawn to trauma informed principles and client centred practice, I began working in Restorative Justice as a Restorative Engagement Facilitator with those experiencing abuse/violence as a specialist for the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (currently the Commonwealth Ombudsman – DEFENCE). This work has extended to providing Direct Personal responses under the various National Redress Schemes to Royal Commissions into abuse and violence. These experiences of abuse or violence can be recent, long standing, or historical, and may involve single or ongoing incidents.
Increasingly I provide forums or facilitate restorative conversations using a trauma informed lens and drawing on Restorative Engagement concepts. These Mediations or Restorative Engagement conversations can be between individuals or groups (with relationships); including family separation, family relationships, workplaces and wider contexts.
Using a trauma informed lens means centring the 5 fundamental principles of; safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment. The focus of these restorative conversations is twofold:
- to provide opportunities to participants to tell their story of abuse/violence to effect recovery and
- to build insight and understanding of abuse/violence to inform ongoing reform or transformation, that may lead to individual and systemic change.
Individuals can be keen to impart their account or story and transfer the responsibility for the experience to another who can accept and express an effective and lasting response. The person’s account may include personal experiences or the impacts and effects of their experiences.
My starting points: creating the space
- Being client centred: valuing and honouring the person
- The importance of the relationship with the facilitator and the role of the facilitator
- Using participant’s language
- Preparation of the participant/victim/survivor/ and the responder/representative/perpetrator
- Building capacity for participation
- What is facilitation and what is it not?
- The importance of timing
- The role of justice
In this journey, I have met extraordinary souls who welcome me (for a brief glimpse) into their world, trusting me to walk with them for some of their journey. I find this work profoundly meaningful. Bearing witness to each person and conversation fundamentally changes and moves me, through experiencing people’s individual capacity for good faith and hope, for their generosity and desire to contribute to knowledge and to make the world better and safer for others.