Restorative Justice provides the opportunity for people who have been harmed, and those responsible for the harm, to come together talk about what happened and why, how they have been harmed and some of the ripple effects on the wider community, and to look collectively at how the needs that have occurred as a result of the harm can be addressed.
There is a range of ways that the harmed, those responsible for sexual harm and their families can participate in restorative justice processes with Project Restore. We will work with all involved to tailor make a process that meets the needs of the all the participants while remaining survivor/ victim centered driven at all times.
Options for participation may include
- A facilitated face to face meeting between the person who caused the harm and the person harmed and support people for both
- Facilitated meetings with others who have been harmed by the offending such as the non offending parent
- Writing a letter to the offender
- Being represented at a community panel process by a victim/survivor advocate
- Shuttle mediation – where messages are taken between parties and agreements are negotiated.
We will allow as much time as possible for preparation and assessment to ensure the maximum benefits for everyone.
We can refer survivors/ victims to a therapist if they don’t already have one and will encourage them to work with the therapist to support them in preparing for and during the restorative processes.
We will ask the person who caused the harm to be assessed for a therapeutic treatment programme and if assessed as requiring treatment to agree to enter into a programme to address the underlying causes of offending. There may be an extra cost to the offender for this.
Project Restore NZ aims to offer a safe and supported environment where:
- It is acknowledged that harm can be emotional, psychological and physical
- Safety in the process is paramount for the survivor
- Survivors have a significant amount of control over the process
- Emotional safety is valued through respectful communication practises, including protection of the right to speak
- Longstanding distortions to family dynamics resulting from sexual abuse are challenged
- Verbal or physical abuse is not tolerated
- A realistic picture of the possible process and outcomes is presented so consent to participate is as informed as possible
- It is acknowledged that the process is part of an ongoing healing journey which could span some years
- Each process is tailor made to suit the needs of the key participants
The process can be accessed without reporting to a criminal justice agency – police (community referrals) or after reporting to the police, charges being laid and a guilty plea has been entered – before sentencing of the offender (court referrals) and after sentencing pre or post release of the offender from prison or a community based sentence (post sentence referrals)
Community referrals can come from multiple sources and in all situations referrals are assessed for safety of all parties by our specialist team. Where there is a current safety risk, particularly in family violence cases, we may not be able to proceed with restorative justice until the police/court proceedings have been dealt with.
Common sources of referral are:
- Anyone harmed by sexual violence or abuse (person harmed)
- Anyone who has caused sexual harm (person responsible)
- Whanau , Iwi social services
- Therapists or counsellors working with either the person harmed or the person responsible for causing the harm
- Agencies working in the area of sexual violence or other social services
Court referrals come from:
- restorative justice providers who have been referred sexual offending cases
- case mangers / court staff where a case has been referred to restorative justice for sexual violence cases by judges at pre sentence hearing
Post sentence referrals can come from:
- probation officers (community based sentences)
- prison staff – sentencing planers or case managers
- psychologists working with sexual offenders
- parole board
- prison chaplains
- sexual offenders serving sentences in prison or the community