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Governor-Gen to launch Restorative Justice Centre

New Zealand's first tertiary centre specialising in restorative justice matters will be launched at AUT University by the Governor-General, His Excellency Anand Satyanand, on Friday, September 15.

The Restorative Justice Centre, based at AUT's Institute of Public Policy, will be a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence for training, education and research into restorative justice theory and practice.

The centre chair is Professor Ian Shirley, Institute of Public Policy director and AUT's Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), and the deputy chair is District Court Judge and restorative justice proponent Fred McElrea.

Professor Shirley says the centre's role will extend beyond the criminal justice sector to include the study and development of restorative practices in different settings.

"As well as general studies, the Restorative Justice Centre will offer specialist units to cater for such sectors as restorative conferencing facilitators, youth justice coordinators and school administrators.

"The centre will also provide a focus for the growing restorative justice community within New Zealand and internationally. It will sponsor publications, conferences and other events to further the interests of that community."

Judge McElrea says restorative justice in this context is an approach to conflict resolution which treats offending as a breach of human relationships.
"It seeks the active participation of those most affected - victims, offenders, families and community - in finding solutions to conflict. It identifies the harms caused by offending, seeks ways to redress this damage and attends to the needs of victims as well as supporting the rehabilitation of offenders."

Initially, the centre will focus on the need in New Zealand for reputable practical and academic teaching of restorative skills and theory - for those already working in the field and those keen to do so.

The centre will also consider restorative justice in the international context and will work with other centres of learning and research, both nationally and overseas.

The framework of the Restorative Justice Centre has been developed by a broad-based coalition of interests including members of the judiciary, strategic government departments, academia, agencies in the voluntary and non-government sectors and practitioners with a track record in restorative justice.

A centre manager will be appointed soon and a new website launched. The first courses are scheduled to start next year.

The Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, will be a guest speaker at the launch.

The Restorative Justice Centre launch:
When: 3pm, Friday, September 15
Where: AUT Conference Centre
Administration Building (WA), ground floor
Wellesley Campus, Auckland City


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