Keynote presentations from the Newcastle as a Restorative City Symposium

The Newcastle as a Restorative City Symposium occurred from 14th to 15th June 2018. It examined the use of restorative approaches and practices internationally in Australia and featured distinguished speakers who are experts in restorative justice and restorative practice. The keynote presentations that occurred are a valuable source of information on restorative frameworks.

Domestic Violence and the Use of Restorative Approaches – Presented by Emeritus Professor Gale Burford

Gale Burford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Vermont (2014) and Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School. He has published on a wide range of research activities, including those that focus on restorative justice and family engagement interventions – particularly in situations of child abuse and interpersonal violence, the use of drug courts, reparative probation with adult offenders, a youth-run community living program, group care and residential treatment programs, differential treatment approaches, teamwork, and organisational change. His current writing focuses on restorative justice and responsive regulation.

Gale speaks of the use of a restorative approach in cases of domestic violence. It involves a rethinking ideas surrounding family, community and cultural safety to focus on accountability, empowerment and healing. Restorative practices such as circles, family group conferencing and peacebuilding meditation are used from the initial inquiry through to post court reintegration. Additionally, an important aspect of creating a restorative dialogue in circumstances of domestic violence is to upskill community members to respond to domestic violence to enable to intervene effectively.

Family Engagement and Restorative Practices – Presented by Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon is the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Social Worker for Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Vulnerable Children in New Zealand. Paul was inspired by practice and innovations from New Zealand, particularly family group conferences, restorative justice and Whanau/kinship care.

Paul explores the issues and complications of the orthodox child protection system, such as blame and conflict and children becoming lost in the system. Professionals are the experts on others and there is a narrow focus on the child and parents. Paul speaks of the positive transformation that can occur in the child protection system by incorporating restorative practices into aspects such as policy design and training. The use of a restorative framework has enabled children and families to become the decision makers by understanding the holistic needs of the situation and building on the strengths that exist within the living environment of a child.

Toward Restorative Community and Culture: The Importance of Governance, Leadership and Learning – Presented by Professor Jennifer Llewellyn

Jennifer Llewellyn is the Viscount Bennett Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law. She has written and published extensively on the theory and practice of a restorative approach in both transitional contexts and established democracies. Professor Llewellyn advises and supports a number of projects and programs using a restorative approach in Nova Scotia and internationally.

Jennifer emphasises the importance of governance, leadership and learning in creating a restorative community in Oakland. She speaks of how developing a restorative approach in a city focuses on transforming the culture of the community. To achieve this, the core of a restorative city focuses on being relational at all levels, including interpersonal, social and institutional relationships. Restorative relationships focus on fostering conditions that are based on mutual respect, care and dignity. Additionally, developing a restorative focus in a city involves using a restorative framework in polices, practices and processes that can be utilised during occurrences of harm and conflict.

Canberra’s Journey to Becoming a Restorative City – Presented by Professor John Braithwaite

Professor John Braithwaite is co-Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at the Australian National University and an active member of the Canberra Restorative Community. One of the themes of his current research is restorative justice in peacebuilding and reconciliation after war. He also works on the relationship between restorative justice and the responsive regulation of business.

John speaks of the journey over the past decades of initiating the change and transformation that has occurred in Canberra to create a restorative community. The early restorative work in Canberra began at Australian National University in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Since this time, the movement has grown considerably as a wider group of individuals and organisations have become involved in restorative practice and restorative justice. In addition to this, the Canberra restorative community has grown connections and relationships with a range of networks in different countries, such as the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP).

Growing Roses in Concrete: Our Journey to a Restorative Oakland – Presented by Teiahsha Bankhead

Teiahsha Bankhead is a restorative justice practitioner and researcher and serves as the Executive Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth. She Co-Chairs the Oakland Mayor’s Public Safety Impact Table, leading the city’s effort to become a restorative city.

Teiahsha speaks of the journey and progress of transforming Oakland into a restorative city. The transformation of culture has involved a focus on relationships, cultivating a community, responding to conflict with peace and explicitly naming restorative practices when they are used. Changes have occurred in the education and juvenile justice systems, such as the incorporation of healing circles, and there has been increased consultation, training and education on restorative practice and frameworks. The continued vision for a restorative Oakland involves focuses on five key goals - healthy children, safe streets, self-propagation, peaceful conflict resolution and strong communities. Teiahsha speaks on how these goals will be achieved and the process that has occurred.

Restorative Practices in New South Wales – Presented by The Hon Mark Speakman SC MP

Mark was a solicitor and subsequently a partner at law firm Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) between 1983 and 1991. He was admitted to the NSW Bar in 1991 and appointed Senior Counsel in 2004. Mark was elected as the Member for Cronulla at the March 2011 state election. In 2013 he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Tertiary Education and Skills, before becoming Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury in 2014. After his re-election at the 2015 state election, Mark was appointed Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage. In January 2017, Mark was appointed NSW Attorney General.

In his address, the Attorney General speaks of the history of Newcastle and explores why Newcastle is a suitable community to undertake the transformation into a restorative city. Additionally, he speaks of the work of the New South Wales Government in using and implementing restorative practices, such as youth justice conferencing.

Building a Restorative Court: The NJC Experience – Presented by Magistrate David Fanning

Appointed a magistrate in 2006, Magistrate Fanning has sat as the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) since it was opened in early 2007. The NJC seeks to provide support and services to address the cycle of offending. Services such as mental health and drug and alcohol services are available on side ready for engagement and can be used on demand when an offender is at the NJC, regardless of a guilty plea. The NJC continually assists and supports individuals to maintain the connection with the services they require in order to effectively address their behaviour.

An important part of the model of the NJC is that, where possible, Magistrate Fanning sits on all matters. This helps to establish and maintain relationships with those present in the criminal justice system. Additionally, at Magistrate Fanning’s discretion, sentences can be deferred for a period of time dependent on the individual circumstances to enable the alleged offender to address any underlying issues.

Significant success has arisen from the model used at the NJC. Crime in the area has reduced by 30% and the court is significantly above the state average of compliance with community correction orders. This success has been linked to the relationships that have been fostered, and the provision of access to key services.

Useful links

There are numerous cities in different countries that are implementing restorative practices and restorative frameworks to continue their transformation into a restorative city. These include:

Additional information on restorative practice can be accessed at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). The IIRP provides educational courses and useful information on restorative practices and frameworks.

Useful articles