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Student reflection piece by Master of Social Work Students, Genevieve and Lauren

Master of Social Work Students, Genevieve and Lauren on their placement at CIJ.

Undertaking field education at CIJ has been an extremely positive experience for us both. We each came into our Masters’ degree with a keen interest in principles of restorative justice, and following an presentation to our cohort from the Open Circle Team, were inspired to apply. Suffice to say, all of our expectations have been exceeded.

A highlight of our experience has been observing the staff at CIJ, and the way a restorative approach informs collaboration and research.  Improving the justice system is not a task for the faint-hearted, and the team’s passionate advocacy was clear in every meeting. In particular, it was remarkable how the lived experience and codesign was valued and placed front and centre of all discussions, championing the agency of all those marginalised within the justice system.

We attempted to carry this same mindset into our own research project. Tasked with developing a suicide response framework, we had the additional privilege of working with staff at CIJ’s partner organisations Youthlaw and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women (LACW). With our combined expertise, this was a great opportunity to grow our experience in research, writing, and adapting clinical knowledge to a legal space. Our collaboration produced a two literature reviews, draft policies for both LACW and Youthlaw, a policy discussion document, and resources for both partner organisations.

The encouragement from staff at the CIJ was wonderful. A number of the staff took the time out of their very busy schedules to explain their roles and experience so that we could get a better understanding of the ins and outs of CIJ and their work. Our direct supervisor, Bernice Beaucaine, CIJ’s Integrated Practice Manager, has been such a genuine, warm, and inspiring mentor throughout this whole process. We are very grateful for this support.

As our time at CIJ draws to a close, we are in agreement that our placement experience was very meaningful. We are grateful for all of the opportunities it offered.

By Gen Brennan and Lauren Dymke, Masters of Social Work Students