FAQs - Restorative Practices and Dialogues
What are restorative practices?
Restorative practices are a range of techniques and processes that help to build community, resolve disputes and manage conflict. Restorative practice conversations and meetings can help members of a community establish, maintain, deepen and -where necessary- repair relationships when there has been harm. They aim to establish shared understanding and can provide acknowledgement, validation and healing when relationships need to be reset.
Restorative practices in residential halls
Following a pilot program established in 2020, restorative dialogues are now utilised in residential halls across campus. Senior Residents and equivalent student leaders receive training on how to use restorative communication as an alternative approach to managing the everyday residential issues they may be expected to deal with. These leaders are supported by the ANU Restorative Community of Practice group.
What is restorative facilitation?
A group facilitation or conference may be held to address a single incident of undisputed harm, a sequence of unresolved disputes, or a significant matter of common concern (which could generate disputes and conflict if not handled well). Restorative facilitation is provided by trained facilitators (not SRs) and is available for members of the ANU community (including residences) who may disclose a matter of harm. If you would like to engage a facilitator in a formal restorative conference, please contact the RRU via firstname.lastname@example.org
What you should know when considering a restorative facilitation in your community in response to a SASH disclosure
US research suggests restorative approaches can be a beneficial alternative response to SASH disclosures because
- Incidents of sexual violence are seen to have a "ripple effect" in adversely affecting the whole community. A restorative process can be an effective way of factoring in broader community involvement and and in some instances addressing more pervasive factors underlying the incident;
- Agreed outcomes from a restorative facilitation can include more effective recommendations for change, and are more likely to be effective if agreed to by all those involved or impacted.
Restorative Dialogues across the ANU
The Respectful Relationships Unit supports the inclusion of restorative dialogues in addressing cultural change, conflict and norm-setting across the University. In 2022 the RRU supported the training of an additional 20 staff to prepare, facilitate and follow up restorative processes for appropriate circumstances within the ANU community, including to address cultural challenges that can manifest as inappropriate behaviour. This training provided participants with restorative dialogue tools to build and maintain respectful relationships and community, and take steps toward cultural change in teams and groups.
Restorative dialogues can be a useful tool for goal-setting in a team environment, determining values or strategic and operational objectives, and ensuring you provide a voice to all members of your team or group.
If you would like to utilise restorative practices and dialogues to support norm-setting, cultural change, or to address conflict in your area, please contact the RRU via email@example.com for a conversation.
* David R. Karp, Julie Shackleford-Bradley, Robin J. Wilson and Kaaren M. Williamsen, 'Campus PRISM: A Report on Promoting Restorative Initiatives for Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses', 2016, The Skidmore College Project on Restorative Justice