Crafting Cohesive Communities: Kerrie Sellen’s Transformative Approach to Restorative Practices

Kerrie Sellen, director of Restorative Journeys, provided invaluable insights into the world of restorative practices (RP) and how these can profoundly reshape and enhance the dynamics within schools, workplaces, and broader communities. Her commitment and passion for the subject were evident throughout the talk, underpinned by her noteworthy achievement of creating Australia’s 6th best workplace culture by embedding restorative practices.

Sellen’s unique perspective centers around the “4 pillars of RP,” a framework she developed, which promotes a proactive and explicit approach to handling interpersonal dynamics, particularly in educational settings. The essence of her presentation revolved around the concept of instilling a consistent, explicit framework accompanied by a shared language, ensuring everyone within an institution speaks the same ‘language’ of restoration.

A highlight of Sellen’s talk was the case studies drawn from her work with various schools. Through Restorative Journeys, she and her team have been actively teaching students, teachers, families, and the broader school community how to utilize the restorative practice framework. This isn’t just about resolving disputes; it’s about proactively building and sustaining healthy relationships. In these institutions, the transformative effects of such practices were evident: schools reported that students were becoming adept at resolving conflicts independently, without always relying on the intervention of educators or staff. Such self-sufficiency is a testament to the effectiveness and long-term benefits of the program.

The significance of a “shared language” was a recurrent theme. By ensuring that everyone — from students to teachers, and even extending to families and the broader community — was equipped with the same tools and terminologies, schools observed a notable shift. This consistent understanding and approach meant that when conflicts did arise, they were addressed and resolved with a unified methodology, preventing miscommunication and fostering understanding.

Perhaps one of the most impressive accomplishments shared by Sellen was the whole-school community trainings undertaken by Restorative Journeys. By extending training to every stakeholder in the educational environment, from the youngest student to administrative staff, and even involving families, they ensured a comprehensive embrace of restorative principles. This inclusivity ensured that the ethos of restorative practices permeated every level of the school’s fabric.

Kerrie Sellen’s work is not just about conflict resolution; it’s about fostering connections, understanding, and a sense of community. By embedding restorative practices into every facet of daily operations, she showcased how schools and workplaces can transform into cohesive, harmonious environments where every individual feels seen, heard, and understood.

In conclusion, Kerrie Sellen’s presentation served as a potent reminder of the transformative power of restorative practices. Her vision of schools and workplaces as hubs of understanding and connection, underpinned by the four pillars she developed, provided attendees with both inspiration and practical strategies. For all present, it was clear that with a consistent approach, shared language, and proactive methodology, we can reshape our communities for the better.