Because Of You... Families Are Capable

By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Tuesday June 1, 2021

We provide restorative justice (RJ) services to the Dunedin and Alexandra courts. This community-based justice programme offers victims of a crime an opportunity to participate in a process to address the harm done, with referrals received through the courts or the Police Diversion Scheme.

Participation in a restorative justice conference is voluntary for the victim and the offender. Both parties are invited to meet together with trained facilitators to discuss what happened and what can realistically be done by the offender to put things right for the victims. Anglican Family Care has been delivering this service for 20 years. We spoke to Angela, our Restorative Justice Co-ordinator, who has been in the role for two and a half years and leads our team of skilled and experienced facilitators.

Tēnā koutou katoa

Ko Kakepuku te maunga

Ko Waipa te awa

Ko Ngāti Maniapoto te iwi

Ko Angela ahau

What’s your background?

I spent a large number of years working in Immigration both in New Zealand and overseas. I then moved to the Middle East with my husband and son and we were living in Lebanon, when there was conflict in 2006. It was during this time that I witnessed the long-lasting effects war had on children and this led me to study Counselling for Children and specifically a degree in Psychology. While I was studying, I returned to New Zealand and volunteered for Victim Support and Stopping Violence, working within the community with victims and offenders. I also did a stint with Te Whare Tāwharau, the Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Centre at Otago University.

What attracted you to the role?

When the role came up, I jumped at the opportunity. A few years ago, I was studying my Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, and my research led me to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The commission’s emphasis was on reconciliation for the large number of victims who suffered gross human rights violations under the Apartheid regime.

Although some may say that it was not successful, the fact that victims were given the opportunity to speak their truth and be heard by the perpetrators is a powerful exercise.

What do you like most about your job?

When a conference proceeds, and both parties show empathy to each other. It sounds corny, but sometimes you just know that when it proceeds it can be beneficial for everyone involved.Sometimes perpetrators of crimes are good people who make a bad decision, they don’t start out their day thinking they are going to do something illegal, or that they are going to significantly affect another person.

What are the challenges?

The most challenging thing for me is ensuring we are doing the right thing by both parties. It is not always the right decision to put an offender in a room with their victims. Although we cannot always predict the outcome, our Facilitators work hard to ensure we do no harm. The well-being of both parties is at the forefront of our decision-making.

Image by: Anglican Family Care

What does your typical day look like?

Each week I spend two or three days in court and if the Judge directs restorative justice, I discuss the process etc with the offenders. I also make contact with the victims and we decide whether or not it is appropriate to proceed to a conference. It is imperative that we ensure that both parties are fully informed before we bring them together. I am pleased to say each day is different and it is difficult to predict how a day will turn out.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?

I currently volunteer with a community organisation and I am a research assistant for a project with Victoria and Otago Universities. I really enjoy sports and supporting family members in their chosen sports, although I have to draw the line at my son’s social basketball where the aim of the game is three-pointers from mid-court. A good book cuddled up with my dog and/or husband is also a great way to spend time.

Ko au ko koe

Ko koe ko au

I am you

You are me(Equality)