What is a Restorative Conference?
A Restorative Conference is a mediated dialogue between harmed individuals and those responsible for causing the harm. The goal of the conference is to provide the victim(s) with an opportunity to be made whole and for the offender(s) to take primary responsibility for repairing any harm done. Typically, a conference concludes with a written agreement which outlines specific actions that will be taken by the offender(s).
How is a Restorative Conference implemented?
- Conference facilitators begin the process by contacting the harmed individual(s) and the individuals(s) who caused the harm, in order to gather information about the incident in question and gauge the impact that the incident has had on them. During this process, other community members may be identified as valuable participants due to their relationship with involved parties, or issues related to the conduct in question.
- At a mutually agreed upon time, the conference is convened with all invited participants seated in a circle facing each other. During the conference, all parties have the opportunity to share their perspectives on the incident, its impact on themselves and others, and what they would like to see happen as a result. Eventually, the group will begin to identify actions required to repair the harm that has been done.
- At the conclusion of the conference, a written agreement is drafted by the facilitators, while participants have an opportunity to interact informally. Once the drafted agreement is signed, the conference is considered completed.
- Responsibility for monitoring compliance with the agreement rests with those who signed it, with the full understanding that other dispute resolution options may still be available if commitments are not met (e.g., the University’s student discipline system, possible legal action).
- Where appropriate, the facilitator(s) may report back to the referring department that the conference was or was not successful. However, details of the conference dialogue will not be shared with anyone outside the conference itself. Any notes taken by the facilitator(s) during the conference will be destroyed upon its conclusion.
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