Lutheran Community Care Services (LCCS) had the opportunity to share with the Grassroots Leaders at the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI), the leadership development arm of the People’s Association (PA), on the Use of Restorative Practice (RP) in the Community. We were grateful for the assistance rendered by the NACLI team – Mr Noriman Ali Salam, Mr Lim Kian Chye, Ms Noorlisawati Talib and Ms Lim Jia Ying for the successful conduct of these sessions on 6 and 7 February 2015.
The sharing generated a lot of interest, discussion and enquiries on RP by the Grassroots Leaders. Some grassroots leaders had expressed interest to be equipped with skills to facilitate restorative conferencing to better serve the community. There were a few grassroots leaders who raised questions and possible challenges applying RP in the community. There were Grassroots Leaders who opined that they could be advocates for community building and sees the potential of RP to engage the community, to repair, restore and build relationships. Some had the idea of involving other relevant stakeholders and community partners for a successful community conferencing. From a total of 60 participants, 36 (60%) participants had indicated further interest on skills and knowledge in RP.
Through the sessions, it was interesting to hear from the Grassroots Leaders who had been trained in mediation on their views on RP and mediation. Mediation has been an approach used by the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) to “act as a neutral platform for residents in Singapore to resolve relational, community and social disputes amicably without resorting to litigation in the Courts” (CMC, 2015). When both parties are brought together in the presence of a neutral facilitator/mediator, he/she would assist both parties in working out solutions to resolve their conflict and to reach a consensual settlement. Comparatively, restorative practice is a holistic approach with its emphasis on repairing harm and restoring relationships. It can be a good complement to our current use of mediation to address issues and conflicts in the community. With RP being relationship-focused, we can create community ownership and build and strengthen the community
We are excited about the possibility of RP being adopted in the community. We look forward to further collaborations with NACLI in the possibility of providing RP training to the Grassroots Leaders to enhance their skills in community work.
“When responding in a restorative manner, we do things with young people and involve them directly in the process. A critical element of the restorative approach is that, whenever possible, we also include victims, family, friends and community — those who been affected by the offender’s behaviour.” – Ted Wachtel, 2009