Restorative Practices

FAQs - Restorative Practices Pilot 

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. 

Why restorative practices in residential halls?

There are three factors that drove ANU's commitment to exploring the use of RPs in residential halls:

  1. The drive and advocacy of student leaders over a number of years for a restorative option to be available in halls, and the policy implementation initiatives of the Respectful Relationships Unit to effect this since its creation in 2019. 
  2. ANU's Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy which in 2019 set an objective of 'exploring the role of restorative approaches to preventing and responding to incidents of sexual violence'.
  3. The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA's) Good Practice Note on Preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Australian higher education sector which in 2020 set as a required standard: Do you have access to a restorative justice or conciliation option?

Why a pilot?

Following wide consultation with ANUSA, PARSA, Inter-Hall Council, the STOP Campaign, the Respectful Relationships Students Working Group, Heads of Halls, the Dean of Students and others it was recommended a pilot be conducted in three residences in 2020.

Who is involved?

There are three residences participating in the pilot - Fenner Hall, Burgmann College and Lena Karmel Lodge. These residences were selected as their Heads/RLM had completed the 3-day restorative skills training with our RP consultants. A proportion of the SRs in each residence have been specially trained by those consultants to use the RP approach.

When will the pilot run?

It will begin in semester 2, 2020 and continue (and possibly be expanded) in semester 1, 2021.

What are we trialling?

We are trialling two forms of RP

  • Restorative communication - where SRs will use restorative conversations as an alternative approach to managing the everyday residential community issues they are expected to deal with. They will be supported by the ANU Restorative Community of Practice group from the Dean of Students office. 
  • Restorative facilitation provided by trained facilitators (NOT SRs) will available as an option for members of the residential community who disclose sexual assault or sexual harassment. This will ONLY happen under the Head of Hall's guidance and direction.

What is a 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). This will be facilitated by trained professionals from the RRU and external consultants. 

What should you know when considering a restorative facilitation in your residence 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 of a residential community. A restorative process can be an effective way of factoring in a broader community involvement and in some instances addressing more pervasive factors underlying the incident;
  • Agreed outcomes from a restorative facilitation can include more effective recommendations for change (including suspension following by a process of reintegration planned) and these options more likely to be effective if agreed to by all those involved including the perpetrator.                                                                                      

* 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