Generous gift secures Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice

A generous $1.2 million gift to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington from the Grace Memorial Trust will ensure the University’s research and leadership in the area of restorative justice will continue far into the future.

Vice Chancellor Grant Guilford, Chair in Restorative Justice Chris Marshall, Pro Vice Chancellor Wellington School of Business and Government Ian Williamson, and Jenny Gill, Trustee of Grace Memorial Trust.

The gift will support the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice, which is based in the Wellington School of Business and Government and provides a focus for collaborative research and teaching on restorative justice theories, policies and practices. The donation from the Grace Memorial Trust will be matched by the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation, which manages donations to support strategic university projects.

The Chair was established in January 2014 as a partnership between the Business School and several community and government partners including The Grace Memorial Trust, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development (since passed on to Oranga Tamariki), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Accident Compensation Corporation.

“The Certificate in Restorative Justice offered at the University is currently the only qualification in New Zealand to cover restorative justice practice across criminal justice, education, health, social welfare and human resources sectors,” says Professor Ian Williamson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean at the Business School. “As restorative justice interventions become more common there will be an ongoing need for skilled and qualified practitioners, so this generous gift is not only extremely welcome but also very timely.”

The holder of the Chair, the Professor of Restorative Justice, provides academic and professional leadership to a team of researchers and practitioners, and facilitates collaborative engagement between public sector agencies and civil society organisations on restorative justice issues.

Restorative Justice gives victims and survivors of crime a voice, providing a safe space for victims and survivors of crime to come face-to-face with the offender and explain the impact that the crime has had on them.

“The opportunity to come face-to-face and talk about the effect someone’s offending has had on the victim or survivor of a crime can be incredibly empowering for both the victim and the offender,” says Professor Ian Williamson.

The Grace Memorial Trust was established by the late Diana Unwin in 1992 and the Trust’s giving has mainly been focused on anti-violence, social justice and peace initiatives.

“Diana was an early supporter of dispute resolution and prison reform, and later in restorative justice. Her commitment culminated in 2013 with a gift in support of the inaugural Chair in Restorative Justice. This latest gift is a fitting legacy to Diana Unwin that will safeguard the Chair for years to come,” said Jenny Gill, Trustee of the Grace Memorial Trust.

Professor Chris Marshall, who has held the post of Chair in Restorative Justice since it was established in 2014, will step down from the role at the end of the year, he will be replaced by Dr Jane Bolitho, currently at the University of New South Wales, who will continue his important work.

For more information, email or call Mo Farrell on 021 253 3280.