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Conferencing and Community Empowerment : Rediscovering the Human Face of Justice

O'Connell, Terry
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Paper presented at Dawn or Dusk in Sentencing, La détermination de la peine : une réforme pour hier ou pour demain, April 24-26, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice. Pp. 143-165. Downloaded 24 May 2005.

Family group conferencing is now identified as a legitimate part of Restorative Justice. In fact some might argue, that it was the introduction in New Zealand of family
group conferencing in 1989, that provided the first significant justice model that fully
reflected restorative justice principles. The development of the Australian Wagga Wagga
Police conference model since 1991, is also viewed as a yet another similar addition to the
restorative justice lexicon. However, the Australian developments are in fact significantly
different to the New Zealand experience, both in terms of articulation and application.
This paper will briefly explore these differences. Apart from describing the
theoretical framework of the Wagga Wagga model (upon which practices are modeled),
it will examine how this model has been adapted for use in many different jurisdictions
and community settings. This will clearly demonstrate that conferencing has added a new
dimension to the integration of restorative justice principles, and can assist communities
more effectively to manage difficulties and disruptions which threaten their social
In exploring Braithwaite’s communitarian notion of social control, this paper will argue that conferencing can make a significant contribution towards community peace
and tranquillity in a way very few other interventions or processes can. Conferencing is
about re-creating community, one that is critical to assist us make sense of a world that has
experienced significant social change over the past 40 years. Three powerful case studies
will be examined to illustrate how all those involved at some stage experience some
“disconnection” from community. Discussion will then focus upon how the conference
process allowed those communities to be strengthened and for many individuals to reconnect
with those who are significant in their lives. Author’s abstract.


AbstractConferencesCourtsFamiliesPolicePrisonsRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
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