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Restorative Justice Practitioners Conference


National Restorative Justice Practitioners Conference Hamilton 2008

The National Restorative Justice Practitioners Conference, organised by Restorative Justice Aotearoa, opened in Hamilton today with the theme of engaging communities and enhancing practice.

Representatives of 31 community organisations are attending the conference in Hamilton.

On Saturday afternoon spokespeople from each of the major political parties will answer questions about their parties views on restorative justice.

Tim Clarke, Chairperson of Restorative Justice Aotearoa, said that restorative justice is about strengthening relationships with a view towards building a safer and more responsible society.

Building the availability and effectiveness of restorative justice in conjunction with the community makes perfect sense, and gives rise to our theme, engaging communities and enhancing practice, said Mr Clarke.

In her opening address, Minister of Justice Annette King emphasised that restorative justice is not a soft option for offenders. It requires offenders to face their victims, redress the harm they have done, and confront the causes of their offending. Many offenders find this far more difficult than the court hearing.

Restorative justice allows victims to express their feelings of fear, anger, sadness or forgiveness, openly. Most importantly, it brings them face to face with the person who caused these emotions, in a respectful but empowering way.
Government initiatives to increase the level of support provided to victims will include information on access to restorative justice services, said Mrs King.
This years theme was addressed by Professor Howard Zehr, of Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia, USA. Key note speakers include Kim Workman, the former Director of Prison Fellowship New Zealand and Rob Cooper, Chief Executive of Ngati Hine Health Trust, Whangarei.

30 community-based providers are funded by the Ministry of Justice to deliver restorative justice services to District Courts around New Zealand. Providers deal with a very wide range of offences and provide restorative justice processes both pre-sentence, following a guilty plea, and as part of the Police Adult Diversion process.

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