Terry O’Connell first introduced me to Restorative Justice in 1989. It immediately resonated with me because it reaffirmed everything I knew was effective in my role as a Detective working with victims, witnesses and offenders.
It reaffirmed the importance of people being able to tell their story, more than just what happened but how it impacted on them. I had learned from some wonderful mentors the importance of being able to relate to people and treating everyone, including offenders with respect and fairness.
Later I worked with Terry again looking at how we could use Restorative Justice as part of a major reform program in the NSW Police.
We then worked with colleagues at the Family Support Service applying it in our work with vulnerable families and in working with victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence. There we explored the theoretical underpinnings that explain why it works and how it can be made explicit. It became more than a process used when something goes wrong, it is now what we do all the time so that we can better manage the inevitable tensions and conflict of life.
Restorative Practice is about the centrality of relationships in our lives, it’s about how we work everyday to maintain, strengthen and repair the important relationships that scaffold our wellbeing and enable us to thrive.
Over the last twenty years Restorative Practice has underpinned my work with victims of clerical sexual abuse, sexual assault, families, couples, communities, workplaces, schools, police and other law enforcement agencies.