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Facilitators’/facilitator assistants’ experience of a restorative justice programme.

Mackenzie, Jean
June 4, 2015

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)


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