Restorative Justice Panel

The use of mediation, restorative justice, and restorative practice for the wellbeing of children and families

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 14.00 -16.00 CET


Simultaneous interpretation to/from Albanian, Croatian – Serbian – Bosnian, English

It has been decades since the lessons learned from victim-offender mediation and related skills started spilling over the boundaries of criminal justice and became integrated into other fields to enhance the wellbeing of children and families at risk. Restorative justice and restorative practice got integrated into many school systems, child-protection, and family services, enhancing greater inclusion of children and family members into decision-making, and increasing their ownership and responsibility for the positive shift in parenting and in family dynamic. There are many examples of systemic change and long-term impact that occurred after the schools or social services adopted restorative approach. This panel will focus on potentials to build upon the existing skills and knowledge on mediation in the region in order to advance wellbeing of children and families.

Central questions:

  1. Why the current approaches in child and family services need improvement?
  2. How the knowledge and expertise on mediation and restorative practice can contribute to better outcomes for children and families?
  3. Which are the lessons learned in attempts to integrate mediation and restorative practice into social work and to secure their sustainability?


  • Dr. Gale Burford, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of Vermont, USA
  • Dr. Anamaria Oprea, Lecturer at Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, De Montfort University, UK
  • Mr. Rasim Gjoka, Executive Director, Albanian Foundation for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Disputes, Albania


  • Ms. Branka Peurača, Senior expert, Meliora (Croatia)

More about panelists:

Dr. Gale Burford

Dr. Gale Burford is Emeritus Professor of Social Work at the University of Vermont. He received PhD from University of Stirling in Scotland, MSW University of Washington, and bachelor’s from St. Martin’s University (Washington).
Gale has held full-time appointments in Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, and the University of Vermont, and visiting appointments at the University of Stirling in Scotland, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (Post-doctoral), the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) Australia National University, and most recently as Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Restorative Justice, Vermont Law School.
Prior to taking up a university teaching appointment in 1981, Gale had experience in public and non- government service as a foster and group home parent, caseworker and social work practitioner, trainer, and supervisor, manager, and senior administrator in services for children, young people, and their families.
His work includes focus on restorative justice and family engagement interventions — particularly in situations of child abuse and interpersonal violence, reparative probation with adult offenders, a youth-run community living program, group care and residential treatment programs, differential treatment approaches, teamwork, and organizational change. His current writing focuses on restorative justice and responsive regulation, results garnered from a multi- year, multiple-methods study of one US State’s efforts to incorporate participatory and restorative practices into its child welfare and youth justice services, and the use of restorative approaches in city and state efforts to coordinate services.
Gale has had the good fortune to be closely connected through providing training, carrying out evaluations and consulting with international projects and programs that employ partnership approaches to their work. He serves on the advisory board for the On the Move Partnership, a project of the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health & Safety Research based at Memorial University, the International Expert Panel for Nova Scotia’s Domestic Violence Strategy Standing Together, and the US National Center for Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School.

Dr. Anamaria Oprea

Ana holds a graduate degree in Social Work with a major in Probation studies, and a post-graduate degree in Community Justice at the University of Bucharest. Ana obtained her PhD in 2010 with a national evaluation of the probation system in Romania.
Ana’s research interests have always sat at the crossroad between social work and criminal justice. Ana has a keen interest in exploring the use of participatory and restorative approaches in direct work with marginalised populations, including offenders, victims and survivors of different crimes, families in which child abuse and neglect is present, and young people committing or being victims of crime.
She is the co-author of the first guide to penal mediation in Romania and is currently sitting in the Social Work team at De Montfort University and leads the Social Care Learning and Development Hub. Ana is also a founding member of the East Midlands Restorative Justice Forum, a local network of professionals interested in the development of local restorative justice practice.

Mr. Rasim Gjoka, Executive Director

Rasim Gjoka is one of the founders of the Albanian Foundation for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation of Disputes (AFCR), a civil society organization established in 1995, and focused on the promotion and development of ADR/ Mediation and Restorative Justice in Albania.
Rasim has contributed to implementing programs focused on developing and promoting the mediation alternative in Albania, such as lobbing for the legal framework for mediation, running many innovative programs in Albania, implementation ADR/court connect mediation, restorative justice for juveniles, education programs for restorative dialogue in schools, providing expertise in several trainings for new and in-service mediators, and also for other interested parties, like judges, prosecutors, local government specialists, teachers, etc.
He is a lecturer at the School of Magistrates. From 2013, Rasim has been engaged as consultant/ facilitator/mediator by the Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO), the independent accountability mechanism of the World Bank Group for the private sector, IFC and MIGA.
Rasim is part of the mediators’ panel of the ADR Centre Global, and he is a member of the European Forum for Restorative Justice since its establishment in 2000. He is also active in the networks in the area of conflict resolution, mediation and peace education in Albania and in the region.