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    The principle of Restorative Justice

    When I am asked what pastoral care is all about, my answer is usually something along the lines of – “looking after the social, emotional and spiritual needs of the people who I am responsible for”. This answer is often followed by another question, “how do you do that”?

    The answer to how we do pastoral care is not a simple one. We use too many techniques, approaches and principles for me to outline what we do in this article, but I would like to take the opportunity to share one principle that we do use today.

    The principle of Restorative Justice

    The principle of Restorative Justice attempts to repair the ill effects of bad experiences that people have in life. We find Restorative Justice very useful when dealing with individuals or groups who find themselves either contributing to harm or being harmed by others.  

    Our traditional justice system is a punitive system that consists of a set of rules, largely set in place to maintain order. When these rules are judged to have been breached, a consequence is handed out by the organization (school, state or other authority). We call this consequence, ‘punishment’ – and punishment usually involves paying back for the wrongdoing in the form of a fine or service.  The punishment usually does not have a direct relationship to the behaviour and does not give any real correction or closure to the perpetrator or the victim.

    By contrast, Restorative Justice focuses on the harm that an action has caused; it seeks to address the need to repair the damage that has occurred. Restorative Justice is a solution-based approach that seeks to find a way forward and make things right for the parties involved. In this process, we try to achieve growth for the parties involved so that some benefit is gained in overcoming the problem.  

    At Freshwater Christian College, we are committed to using Restorative Justice as much as possible as we have found that it works effectively in bringing growth, closure and fair outcomes for wrongdoing in our College. 

    The table below provides a comparison summary between the discipline mindsets’ of Restorative Justice and Punitive Justice.

    Discipline Mindsets
    Rule breakingHarm
    Blame and GuiltProblem Solving
    AdversarialDialogue and negotiation 
    Punishment to deterRestitution to repair
    Affected ignoredAffected empowered
    Accountability equals being punishedAccountability equals having to make things right.

    Table sourced Behavior Matters 2019

    David, Carla and Makeesha

    Pastoral Care Team