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Restorative Practices and Family Empowerment: both/and or either/or?

Doolan, Mike
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Paper presented at “Building a Global Alliance for Restorative Practices and Family Empowerment, Part 3”, co-hosted by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and Real Justice Australia, March 3-5, in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia. Downloaded 14 April 2005.

Today in the mail I received a notice about a 2003 conference in The
Netherlands called “Building a global alliance for restorative practices and
family empowerment�?. The title set me thinking about the relationship between
these two concepts.
Readers will know that the family group conference was introduced into law in
New Zealand in 1989 as a decision-making method for determining
appropriate responses to offending by young people (and for care or
protection concerns as well). The law gives the victims of offences by young
people the entitlement to attend family group conferences, and as an entitled
person, a victim becomes one of a number of persons who must agree to a
plan for it to be accepted as an alternative to prosecution of the young person
who has offended. This measure was later hailed as an example of restorative
practice, and while I think it is capable of delivering on restorative aims and
objectives, this was not the reason it was introduced. Those of us who were
involved in the policy development process leading up to the new law had
never heard of restorative justice (indicating some deficits in our research
approach, as there was a body of literature available on the subject even
then) and the law was not crafted to embody restorative aims. The law was
about restoring to family networks control over the decision-making about
their young people who, for some reason or another, had come under the
notice of the statutory child welfare agency. The history of such contacts, for
Maori and Pacific Peoples in particular, had seen the customs, values and
beliefs of these communities as having little relevance alongside the customs,
values and beliefs of the dominant white culture. (excerpt)


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