Source: (2010) Master's Thesis. Master of Counselling, Notre Dame University, Fremantle, Australia..

This phenomenological study examined the lived experience of six facilitators and facilitator assistants participating in a Restorative Justice (RJ) program in Western Australia. The aim was to establish an extended and informed understanding of the group dynamics, processes, outcomes and impacts on the participants in the program. Part of this exploration involved looking into commonalities and differences between the particular program under investigation and other RJ programs. Of particular interest were the development of victim empathy, victim and offender support, prevention of revictimisation, and the overall healing process of victims of crime, offenders and the wider community. Also under scrutiny were the facilitation of groups with highly negative emotional content, and the question of whether expectations and outcomes experienced by victims of crime and offenders in a model in which the offender has contact with the primary victim, were also evidenced when surrogate victims participated. The findings in this study suggested that the model under review appeared to have a number of benefits for victims and offenders, when compared to RJ programs which brought victims into direct contact with their offender. These included such elements as increased safety, protection from re‐victimisation, and the opportunity for some level of healing in situations when the actual victim or the offender was not available. There was no evidence that re‐victimisation was an issue but rather that the model provided a positive benefit by offering a less threatening alternative to direct contact between actual victims and offenders. Victims could access some closure and healing by telling their stories to a ‘one step removed’ offender. Offenders too received some benefits. They had the opportunity to be heard, to achieve some understanding of the impact of their behaviour, and some insight into how their victims might have felt. They were then able, working from within a community of acceptance to make some plans for reparation and for moving on. There was strong evidence of positive changes in both victims and offenders. (author's abstract)

Read Full Article