The philosophy of Restorative Practices informs a positive and formative approach to student behaviour management, and is recommended for Catholic schools. A commitment to Restorative Practices has as its aim the promotion of resilience in the one harmed and the one causing harm. Restorative measures help students learn from their mistakes, grow in self-discipline, take responsibility for their actions, recognise the impact of their actions on others, and reconcile and resolve conflict with others. Further information may be obtained from Catholic Education Melbourne.

It is imperative to note that this session has been set in the context of working in a Catholic school and the presentations are represented through this lens.

Key themes

  • College Mission
  • College Vision
  • Catholic schools have a unique identity
  • Restorative Practices in principle and in action
  • Restorative Practices as actively lives out the Gospel values
  • Restorative practices and Human Dignity – made in the image of God
  • Nurturing the growth of each student to the fullness of life which Jesus brings
  • As a Catholic community we recognise the presence of God in each person
  • We provide a conduit between students’ lives in the real world and their inner lives

Restorative Justice

The term "restorative justice" came to be used in schools during the 1990s as pilot programs of the Conferencing process were established in Australia and New Zealand, Canada and the US, the UK, South Africa, Scandinavia and elsewhere . In other words, the adoption of the language of "restorative justice" in schools is closely associated with the introduction of the Community Conferencing process. Many school processes that are now seen as examples of "restorative justice" were not initially categorised that way. These processes include:

  • Peer mediation
  • Circles, peacemaking circles or circle time
  • Community Conferencing

Restorative justice approaches typically involve a process known as "conferencing".

What is Conferencing?

Conferencing involves a formally structured conversation, using ‘Affective Questions’, between people who are affected by conflict in a community. That conflict may be:

  • the result of some harmful act about which there is no dispute, and/or
  • associated with many unresolved disputes between individuals, and/or groups in the community.

Whether there is no dispute, or there are many disputes, the Conferencing format enables everyone affected to consider:

  • what happened,
  • how each person has been affected, and
  • what might be done to improve the situation.

In schools, Community Conferences (discussing incidents with students using ‘Affective Questions’) tend to be convened in the wake of reasonably serious incidents of harm. Typical incidents, occurring within or outside the classroom, involve behaviours such as:

  • significant and/or persistent disruption;
  • bullying;
  • fighting;
  • property damage; or
  • theft.

A trained facilitator brings together those directly involved, with appropriate school personnel and often also with family members. Participants in a Conference typically plan to meet the identified needs of any of the participants and to seek necessary changes to school structures, policies and practices in order to minimise the likelihood that harmful behaviours might be repeated. Follow-up supports compliance with any agreement. Conferences tend to prevent further harm by successfully resolving concerns and conflict.

From Victorian Association for Restorative Justice

Accessed Thursday, 8 October 2009

List of Affective Questions

To the wrongdoer/s

What happened?

What were you thinking at the time?

What have you thought about since?

Who has been affected by what you did? In what ways?

What do you need to say or do to fix things/make things right ?

How can we make sure that this doesn't happen again?

What can I do to help you?

To the victim/s

What did you first think when it happened?

What have you thought about since?

How has it affected you?

What has been the worst thing?

What needs to happen to make things better?

How can we make sure that this doesn't happen again?

When stuck

What did you want when you did that?

Was what you did helpful?

Is what you did fair or unfair?

What do you need to hear from them to know what they are sorry?

What things are you sorry for?

How can we see your apology in action?

What things can you take responsibility for?