News

Restoring youth justice through storytelling: Patricia’s training

Monday, 4 May 2020

For millennia, storytelling has been a vital part of Pacific Island cultures.

Now, justice systems around the world are using it as a method to help young offenders understand the impact of their actions, repair harm caused, and reduce recidivism.

Patricia Gure underwent training with Queensland’s Department of Youth Justice to learn more about the storytelling-based practice known as Restorative Justice Conferencing.

She hopes to apply this approach to support better outcomes for Papua New Guinean youth and communities.

Training for Restorative Justice Conferencing

The Bachelor of Criminology and Justice (University of Sunshine Coast, QLD) student explains that Restorative Justice Conferencing “provides diversion from and alternatives to punitive punishment”.

Patricia believes that conferencing is “purposefully structured to create an environment that gives equal opportunity to all parties involved in the aftermath of the offence to tell their story”.

The intensive four-day training was facilitated by the Department’s Youth Justice Skills and Capability division.

Its aim was to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the practice, as well as skills needed to prepare and convene Restorative Justice Conferences themselves.

The training covered an in-depth exploration of the Restorative Justice principles and how they apply to the Youth Justice Law. As well as interactive learning, including role-playing and a valuable assessment of Patricia’s mock conferencing.

Applying learnings to PNG youth justice

Patricia explains that “while PNG’s traditional conflict resolution methods reflect Restorative Justice principles, inception of these principles into juvenile justice systems’ community-based conferences requires more effective regulations or guidelines on how conferences are conducted to deal with young people who come into conflict with the law”.

Patricia-Gure-Christine-Thomas-Womens-Leadership-Initiative
Pictured: Women's Leadership Initiative participant Patricia Gure with mentor Christine Thomas

Patricia’s participation in the training was facilitated by her Australian mentor, Christine Thomas, who was one of the training’s facilitators.

An experienced youth justice convenor and social worker, Christine is a Founding Director of The Cygnet Centre for Peacebuilding and Transformation. She has been working closely with Patricia to share diversionary approaches and other models that may be replicable in PNG.

“Crime is not only about violation of laws but it is a violation of relationships”, explains Patricia.

“Bringing people together to tell their stories is an important aspect in promoting justice”, she adds. “This [training] has helped me to development by knowledge of key concepts and operational frameworks … for convening community-based conferences in PNG”.

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