Thursday, 4 February 2016

Punishment vs Therapeutic Jurisprudence

Restorative Practices International Seminar

  • Punishment vs Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Which will reduce incidence of crime in the long term?

Thursday 10 March 16, 4.30pm—6pm

North Shore Boat House
55a Lindsay Street, INVERMAY
Cost : Free 

RSVP:   Online or Email


  • Welcome : RPI Director John Lennox
  • Meet the Launceston Committee
  • Guest Speaker: Michael Hill

About the guest speaker

Michael Hill graduated in Law from the University of Tasmania in 1971 and was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court in February 1972. He practiced in general litigation until 1984 when he joined the Law Department as Head of the Legislation and Policy Division.
He was appointed the first Special Commissioner of the Tasmanian Small Claims Court in1985.
He was appointed a Magistrate in 1988, Deputy Chief Magistrate in 1996 and Chief Magistrate in 2009.
In 2005 he served as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court.
From 2007 to 2011 he was the Regional Convener for Tasmania for the National Judicial College of Australia and was a member of the Council of the College from 2013 to 2015.
He served on the Council of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association representing Australia between 2003 and 2009.
He retired in October 2015. He is serving on two boards, assisting at the University Law School, visiting his grandchildren and playing g

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Domestic violence and restorative practices

A national focus

Across Australia this week, there has been a strong focus on domestic violence.

The Hitting Home series on ABC TV together with the associated Q&A special provided a wealth of material for reflection and discussion.

For me, the strong but understated implication of the programs was the desperate need for 
  • Social and emotional development of the perpetrators (and victims)
  • Repair of the harm done to the victims (and perpetrators)
How much of the problematic behaviour in schools is the product of child abuse and domestic violence? Much more than is generally acknowledged.

In the Q&A program there was a report of the recent initiatives to move from reactive police after the event, to preventative policing before more harm is done.

Schools can play a powerful long-term role in preventing further domestic violence by embedding restorative practices to
  • repair harm already done
  • make expectations explicit - everyone needs to know and agree what is acceptable
  • build community that  supports both victims and potential perpetrators*
  • enable the social and emotional development of all members of the school community.
(* I have always believed that being a bully is bad for the bully)

I wrote about Breaking the Cycle of Family Violence a few months ago. This week has only re-enforced the need to maintain every effort possible.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

It is not about Restorative Practices

It is not about Restorative Practices per se

To paraphrase this profound GapingVoid cartoon:

Restorative practices are not the thing. It is the person, family, home, team, class, school, community... that you build with restorative practices that are the real thing.

Restorative practices/justice are a powerful set of strategies and tools but they have no value in themselves. Their value lies in enabling  ordinary people to
  • Resolve often serious problems 
  • Repair harm done
  • (Re-)build relationships and 
  • Build the "community".
And this is why the Social Discipline Window is at the core of Restorative Practices. 

Building relationships and community cannot be done TO or FOR the people involved. And it won't happen is no-one gets involved. 

To build a "house" (community) it necessary to work WITH the people involved. This means providing the necessary Support and Challenges that are embedded in all Restorative Practices.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Restoring Habits of Mind

Positive Habits of Mind

Habits of Mind are our patterns of thinking that shape our actions and experiences over time, and in a range of situations.

Positive habits of mind contribute to our own best interests, while respecting the rights of other. Sadly unhelpful habits of mind make life more difficult for us and for those around us.

Good or bad they operate automatically and require little effort so that we may not even be aware that we have unhelpful habits in the way we see and respond to others and situations that we encounter.

In a sense our habits of mind are our personal systems for dealing with our selves in the world. As such they are likely to contain our real values.

Positive habits of mind are not simple rules or skills but often require considerable insight, astute judgement, resilience, courage, practice and tenacity….leading to ongoing success and well-being.

Habits of Mind and Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices support the development of positive habits of mind.

Restorative circles and restorative questions often also reveal unhelpful habits. For example, it is common for participants in circles or restorative meetings to gain profound insights leading to new ways of thinking about themselves and each other.

Restorative commitments and on-going support enable 'offenders' to practice new habits of mind. This is one reason why follow-up is important

There are lots of good things can flow from developing improved habits of mind:
  • Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Organisation
  • Getting Along (improved relationships)
  • Resilience 
  • ...
Lots of ways of acting and responding

By improving our habits of mind, Restorative Practices can improve the following social and emotional abilities that are essential for our success and well-being:
  • Accepting Myself and Other
  • Taking Risks
  • Being Independent
  • Giving Effort
  • Working Tough
  • Setting Goals
  • Optimism
  • Happiness
  • Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
  • Focusing on solutions (rather than problems)
  • Managing impulsivity
  • Gathering data through all senses
  • Listening with understanding and empathy
  • Creating, imagining and innovation
  • Thinking flexibly
  • Responding with wonderment and awe
  • Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
  • Taking responsible risks
  • Striving for accuracy
  • Finding humour
  • Questioning and posing problems
  • Thinking independently
  • Applying past knowledge
  • Remaining open to continuous learning
  • ...
Note: Consider how many of the above are impacted by drug addiction, mental illness and unresolved guilt.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

3 Tiers of Restorative Practices

Integrating RP and PBIS

Restorative Practices (RP) and School-wide Positive Behaviour Support (PBIS) overlap and complement each other. And many schools use both approaches in very well integrated ways.

For example, I came across this diagram explaining three levels of intervention as it applies to the use of Restorative Practices in schools
Like well implemented Restorative Practices, PBIS is school-wide and aims to build clarity of expectations, support, relationships and community. It is not just about solving problems. In many schools Restorative Practices are valued as powerful positive interventions and supports.

Three Levels of application

For those involved in School-Wide PBIS, the above diagram will be very familiar!! And adopting Restorative Practices is a natural step forward to make the school's PBIS even more effective. At the same time it is important to remember that Restorative Practices is not a short-cut version of PBIS!

And as in PBIS, it can be useful to think of three levels of application of RP 

1. School-wide Prevention Practices can easily incorporate many aspects of RP including
  • use of affective statements
  • extensive use of circles for a wide range of everyday purposes
2. Managing Difficulties includes supports such as 
  • the use of the (Restorative) questions that can generate insight and create possibilities for resolving issues 
  • more use of (Restorative) circles / meetings  focused on existing and/or emerging issues with the students (and others) involved
3. Intense Intervention includes

  • restorative conferences
[The above diagram is from Restorative Justice - a working guide for our schools - a sound, easy-to-read guide to implementing what some call "restorative practices" at the school or school district level.  For more information simply Google "pbis"]

Thursday, 24 September 2015

We want you here!!

Where is your focus? Problem solving or belonging??

The Restorative Schools online newspaper reports each week about schools reducing suspensions, having fewer problems... all things that make the school a better, safer place to be.

But one slightly different headline caught my eye - a message to students:

We want you here!!         

Such schools are voicing a direct commitment to their students, all their students!! Not just those who arrive at school in reasonable shape and comply with the schools' expectations.

Many problematic students are not wanted anywhere else in our communities... school might be their only chance to be wanted in a healthy community. To belong is a basic human need we all share. 

The school, club... doesn't want a person who else will? Employers? Clubs? Community groups?... Probably not!!

This is fundamental to the success of Restorative Practices - that those who have done harm can still belong.

How clearly does your school, club, group...communicate with all its people that they are wanted?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Restoring our organisations

"Restorative" is not just for people (updated)

Does your organisation make it easy for people to "do the right thing"?

Sometimes we need to "restore" our organisations, communities, teams, businesses, clubs, classes, that people do the right thing and there is less need for restorative justice.

Common approaches
The basic organisational approach is to try to fix every problem as it occurs (if possible). A more comprehensive approach is to respond at the three levels outlined in Problem Solving with Restorative Practices
Contain - Resolve (& Repair) - Reduce

An even more comprehensive and pro-active approach is to do both the above AND restore the organisation (school, service, team, business...) in which problems arise. But how to do it in in ways that are consistent with Restorative principles? And where to start?

Underlying principles
The fundamental principles underpining Restorative approaches include...
  • The care and attention we give demonstrates the value we place on matters and things. 
  • Most of us (attempt to) respond to the value we perceive that others place on matters and things.
Restorative management makes it easier to "do the right thing"
  1. Make expectations explicit- involve everyone in developing expectations
  2. Make expectations achievable - some people may need assistance
  3. Show that we care - 'walk the talk'
  4. Explain why we care - leadership, values, develop emotional intelligence
  5. Achieve agreement across and throughout the organisation, community...
  6. Act to reduce the frequency of problems arising  - see below
  7. Fix a problem promptly when it gets broken and involve 'the perpetrator' if possible
  8. Monitor and celebrate ongoing improvements
  9. Use alternate responses if the 'window' gets broken repeatedly by the same people
 At the organisational level the following steps can "restore" the organisation. 
1. Know which problems occur frequently around here                  
2. Check the available data - does reality match perceptions?
3. Establish priorities for attention, prevention & response
4. Work through the key elements (above) in relation to a priority problem  
A frequently occurring problem can lead to an action plan focused on making it easier for everyone to do the right thing. The action plan is properly implemented when it goal happens as a matter of course without intervention, supervision...

Is it really new?
Chances are the above represents the best of what you already do, especially if you are a Restorative Practitioner. Perhaps this framework will enable everyone to be a little more consistent and collaborate a little more easily.

A more detailed discussion is available Broken Windows.