Demonstration Projects

The Newcastle as a Restorative City Initiative is working with community partners who are involved in restorative practices that are actively transforming Newcastle into a restorative city.

Many Hands Collaborative Project

The Newcastle Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) is working to make fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) history in Newcastle. The project aims to boost and sustain the level of awareness and associated prevention of FASD amongst all stakeholders within the local juvenile justice system.

FASD is a common form of non-genetic birth defect and the estimated prevalence rate of FASD in our general population is around 5%. Of these children, it is estimated that an average of 90% will develop a mental health and/or alcohol and other drug problem. Sixty per cent will have contact with the juvenile justice system at an average age of between 12 and 13 and the same percentage will experience disrupted schooling.

The key objectives of the project are to achieve a common high level of FASD awareness amongst all juvenile justice system stakeholders, to develop a local-diagnosis referral pathway for all children suspected of having a cognitive impairment, and to create a model to divert all local children with cognitive problems away from the justice system. The project aims to achieve these goals by embracing a therapeutic and restorative approach. This will involve the recognition of impairments by key stakeholders to ensure that the needs of young people and their families are upheld.

Additional information

The additional resources on FASD and the juvenile justice system are credited to the Telethon Kids Institute at The University of Western Australia. They are non-exhaustive sources of information.

Building a Restorative Community

Since 2016, Student Living, at the University of Newcastle have worked continuously to create a restorative community throughout the residential precinct. Student Living supports 1800 residents to live on campus and fosters high academic achievement.

Student Living empower their student leaders to develop communication skills and to build healthy relationships within the community. Each year over 70 student leaders, Residential Mentors, are trained how to form connections circles. This restorative approach is then used by the student leaders in their engagement with their residents, assisting in further establishing healthy relationships, resolving conflict and managing expectations.

Student Living believe in explicit restorative practices and utilise a restorative framework not only within the community, but also within their workplace – valuing connection between team members. Connection circles are used at the beginning of all staff meetings and it is made explicit that a restorative framework is embraced when working with staff members from Student Living and stakeholders from the wider community.

Whilst Student Living hope to work in a proactive framework, valuing relationships and connections with those you work and live with, they also opt to utilise restorative practices when managing student conduct. Working in parallel with the Student Conduct Rule, Student Living, where appropriate, will work within restorative conversations and conferences to offer a space where harm can be restored between those who have felt harm and those who can take responsibility for the harm caused.

Name Narrate Navigate

Practitioner academics from the University of Newcastle have been awarded $582,361 by the Federal Government, Department of Social Services (DSS) to deliver an innovative, cross-sector initiative addressing the issue of interpersonal violence in the lives of young people (10-17 years of age).

Led by Dr Tamara Blakemore and Shaun McCarthy, the initiative will involve the design, implementation and evaluation of an early intervention program. It will run over two years across the Port Stephens, Lower and Upper Hunter regions. The program will facilitate and rely on strong interagency relationships with key partnerships in the government and non-government sector.

The project embraces restorative principles by recognising the importance of relationship-based approaches to practice that are trauma informed and culturally responsive. The program importantly addresses the need for improved knowledge, behaviour, confidence, connection and coping – not only for young people, but also the surrounding service and support sector.