A Canberra restorative community

We seem to know more but understand less about the human condition.

We could move from an impulse to exclude and brand people, or engage in human outreach, improving ourselves and the emotional life of others.

These are just some of the big questions universities need to help answer, according to retired US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich.

These are also some of the themes the Canberra Restorative Community network has engaged with since July 2015.

Launched by former Attorney-General Simon Corbell, and continuing to be championed by current Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay, the network has the support of more than 100 organisations representing our local places of work, study, prayer and play.  

Restorative justice is a process that gives people affected by an injustice or wrongdoing an opportunity to tell their stories about its consequences and what needs to be done to repair the harm.

The restorative vision has re-emerged more than 20 years since its genesis here at ANU. As well, Canberra has played an international lead role in research and practice in this field.

So, why a restorative Canberra? What might it look like, how might we go about it and for what purpose?

A recent RegNet and Crawford School visitor from the University of Vermont, Professor (Emeritus) Gale Burford, said: “Canberra’s place in the history of the incubation of these ideas and support for restorative work, cannot be overstated. When you think about it, Canberra is the most obvious place in the universe to be doing this.”  

The broader relevance and application of restorative justice has been highlighted nationally and internationally.

Developments include:

• Recommendations by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence include a pilot for the delivery of restorative justice options for victims of family violence.

• In South Australia, a trial of the circle of support and accountability model for sexual offenders is based on solid empirical evidence showing an overwhelming reduction in re-offending.