Source: (2002) Paper presented at "Dreaming of a New Reality," the Third International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, August 8-10, 2002, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This paper will challenge the capacity of current operating frameworks to respond appropriately to the fundamental needs of families, children and young people. Initially we will describe an innovative development in Goulburn, a small rural city in the south of the state of New South Wales, Australia, which is successfully assisting families deal with issues around abuse, violence, general dysfunction, poor parenting and parental separation. We will then explore implications of this work against the background of the general impoverishment of current responses. In doing so we will describe how our developing model of service delivery provides us with a resource that works in terms of improved outcomes for clients. The model provides a method of engaging clients in a meaningful way to discover what help looks like for them. It is inclusive, participatory and in a significant way moves practice beyond what is currently available. Our day-to-day practice engages clients to establish their wants and needs and works with them to move from harmful to wholesome behaviors. This practice we suggest, is significantly different from that of many other social welfare agencies that focus around what they can provide for or need to do to the client. An important supplementary outcome of this practice is the improved staff morale stemming from an ability to better manage the very difficult and challenging situations presenting around clients.

Read Full Article