Workplace & Industry

"Restorative justice" or “restorative practices” have been applied in workplaces in recent years. The following grid combines various processes into one explanatory model. Some of these processes are typically categorised as "ADR", others as “restorative justice" and others as simply "facilitation" or "communication." All are useful, sometimes in combination, for improving workplace communication.





An accusation which is clearly disputed, and which must, by law &/or administrative guidelines, be dealt with formally.

Clearly disputed accusation

Formal Fact-finding


...gathers and reviews evidence, then resolves the dispute by imposing a judgement.

A dispute arising from lack of clarity about the issues, & affecting two key parties.

Dispute between two parties

Assisted Negotiation

...helps disputants resolve their dispute by clarifying/ reframing issues & so distinguishing:

  • people from problems;
  • where people want to be from how to get there;
  • optimal ways of getting there.

Disputes arising from lack of clarity about various issues, & involving more than two parties .

Disputes between several parties

Problem-solving / Gaol-setting Dialogue

...structures out conflict and structures in cooperation with a meeting format to identify in sequence:

  • general experiences;
  • specific problems;
  • optimal solutions.

Significant conflict associated with a harmful act about which there is no dispute ; &/or many poorly resolved disputes between individuals , &/or groups.

Specific conflict with no dispute or many disputes


...brings together everyone affected and helps participants transform conflict into cooperation by considering:

  • what happened;
  • how people have been affected;
  • how best to improve the situation.

An individual is responsible for managing disputes and conflict in the workplace.

Challenges of managing disputes and conflict in the workplace

Conflict Coaching

..assists an individual to develop practical ways to resolve disputes and enhance conflict management skills, using a structure systemically to articulate goals & rehearse different options for achieving objectives.

General conflict

  • between individuals and groups
  • within a medium/large organisation


  • other community.

  General conflict in a large organisation

  Constructive Communication Workshop

...prepares & convenes a workshop where colleagues identify styles and systems of communication conducive to cooperation, then develop a plan for turning theory into practice.

Adapted from David B. Moore David Williamson's Jack Manning Trilogy: A study guide , Sydney: Currency Press, 2003 and "Managing Social
Conflict: The Evolution of a Practical Theory" in Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare XXXI, no. 1 March 2004

An important shift in emphasis is occurring in the field of workplace dispute and conflict handling. Practitioners and policy makers are seeking to devote a greater proportion of resources to promoting wellness as opposed to responding to sickness. (Similar shifts from reaction to prevention have occurred in areas such as public health, psychology, and policing.) In many workplaces, effective managers are shifting their primary focus from:

(i)  refining or elaborating grievance handling systems; to
(ii) promoting a culture in which all staff are engaged in efforts to improve communication and promote constructive working relations across the organisation:

A philosophy or restoration over retribution is part of this fundamental shift in emphasis, from:
  • Reacting to negative features of a system, through
  • Preventing negative features of a system, through
  • Promoting positive features of a system.
Staff may be offered some combination of any of the following, depending on the current state of their organisation:

See the State Services Authority report: Developing Conflict Resilient Workplaces: A report for Victorian public sector leaders


Available at:$File/Resilient_workplaces_report.pdf

Workplace Conferencing and the Movie Face to Face links: (ABC Late Night Live audio archive) (hrdaily interview with David Moore)

Victorian Association for Restorative Justice     Email:                                    Design by
PO Box 475, East Melbourne, Melbourne Victoria 3002
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