of Aotearoa New Zealand
Restorative Justice now there’s a word
Meet the man that caused all these injuries how absurd.
On the first request a definite no
It would have been easy to tell them all where to go.
Time has moved on and the thinking has changed
May be I should, a meeting was arranged
Leading up to the time and reliving all the feelings was more than a drama
As I entered the room I was feeling a lot calmer.
The two organisers had it all under control
It was time; we are now ready to roll.
I looked and I listened at all who were present
I was trying to be open minded and get rid of the resentment.
The man spoke and I believe from his heart
You could see part of his world had also been torn apart.
My turn to speak on behalf of my family and what this has done
Turned our world totally upside down, definitely no part of it is there any fun.
The man’s daughter spoke and I believe she was sincere
Her Dad meant the world to her that was clear.
The two organisers were good and they set the tone
At no time did you think you were there sitting alone.
We were given the opportunity for any final thoughts
After this it is in the hands of the courts.
In the last month I was privileged enough to join and Haley and Sarah in Denver, Colorado for the 7th NACRJ conference (The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice). Being surrounding by hundreds of others inspired by, dedicated to and engaged in work of restorative justice was an incredible experience.
I can’t thank my RJ mentors enough for offering the opportunity to not only attend, but present at the conference about the restorative work we undertake at Victoria University. Haley, Lindsey and Sarah - thank you so much.
Of the many wonderful, thought-provoking and exciting workshops I attended over the three-day conference I’ve found myself reflecting upon one in particular. The workshop was led by an incredible woman named Elaine Shpungin. Her workshop was centred around the key question, “How restorative are you under high pressure and low capacity?”.
To address this issue, we must first look at a keystone framework of restorative justice literature, Watchel’s social discipline window. In Watchel’s window, each quadrant represents a different combination of levels of control and support which individuals employ to attempt to influence the behaviour of others.
To act ‘restoratively’ is to employ both high levels of support and control. Through this approach, individuals can confront behavioural issues, or wrongdoing while simultaneously appreciating the intrinsic worth of the accountable party.
Elaine’s presentation explored how individuals can be prone to ‘slipping’ from the restorative quadrant in stressful and confusing situations as a result of our own biases and prior conditioning. When the pressure turns up our own unique set of biases and experiences will lead each of us down a slippery path to one of the ‘to’, ‘for’, or ‘not’ quadrants, where our behaviours towards others may become neglectful, permissive or punitive.
Staying in the restorative quadrant is demanding work, and operating restoratively requires high levels of self-awareness, emotional literacy and individual capacity. It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes individuals don’t have the capacity to fully engage in our relationships in a restorative manner. In these moments the easy route is to turn a blind eye, to make excuses for others, or to punish and reprimand, the behaviours we can easily default to when the going gets tough.
But, we can help prevent these slips from happening through six key behaviours:
According to Ted Watchel, the fundamental underlying hypothesis of restorative practices is that “human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behaviour when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them”.
Working ‘with’ people is demanding – it takes emotional engagement, personal investment and a real commitment. But, working ‘with’ others is truly rewarding, fulfilling and absolutely fundamental for any leader wishing to lead restoratively.
If you’re interested in exploring more of Elaine’s work, you can check out her website here: https://conflict180.com/about-us/