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Restorative Justice and community development practice-how neat a fit?

Verity, Fiona
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Paper presented at “New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice”, Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

What does Restorative Justice have to offer to community workers and what does community development have to offer Restorative Justice? These questions are explored in this paper, through a conversation between the two authors – one of whom has a background in community development and the other in the area of corrections and criminal justice.

This dialogue seeks to enrich the theory and practice in each arena. The initial meeting point for our shared interest in restorative justice was a conversation about how restorative justice ideas and practices could assist in locality based community development practice. Restorative justice as popularly conceived is intertwined with ideas about community. Building trust within communities, restoring damaged social and interpersonal relations, widening the ways in which conflict and violence are understood and responded to, all are elements of a restorative justice approach. There are parallels here with the activities that are undertaken by community workers who seek to engage in peace making projects in conflicted communities.

The contribution to Restorative Justice from a critical community work perspective is to work from a concept of community that is more robust than the negative and consequently limiting notion of an imagined romantic ‘community’ sometimes utilised. If Restorative Justice is to provide a framework for working within modern Australian communities it will be necessary to utilize understandings of community that recognize the violence and alienation within communities, ways to work with the strengths of communities and as well locate this within an understanding of political economy. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University,


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