Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is a restorative process?

A restorative process focuses on harms, needs and obligations rather than blaming or punishing people. It includes all those affected by an incident, issue or conflict and enables them to participate freely in mutual dialogue and decision-making. A restorative process is concerned with achieving concrete changes that promote repair and reconciliation, and is guided by principles and values rather than by prescriptions and rules.

2. What can participants expect?

The use of independent facilitators, and processes that give equal voice to all participants, manages any power imbalances.  A restorative process enables open, honest and direct communication, in a face-to-face setting. Participants are brought together to help understand some of the following questions: What happened? How has it affected people? What needs and obligations exist? How can any harms be repaired? What support is required to ensure a positive outcome?

For this specific process, participants can expect to sit in a circle with two trained facilitators who will provide the support and structure to share stories through. Everyone will be given an equal opportunity to share their responses to guiding questions. Andrew Simpson (the Chief Medical Officer) and/or Margareth Broodkorn (the Chief Nursing Officer) will also participate in the circle as representatives of the Ministry of Health.

3. What does a restorative process hope to achieve?

The overriding goal is to heal the damage and restore relationships and develop restorative outcomes that include safety, dignity, trust and responsibility for all parties. Those who have caused harm are invited to acknowledge this, listen respectfully and honor their duty to put things right. In a restorative process the participants decide what needs and obligations exist and how the harm will be repaired. Therefore, the specific outcomes of this circle process will be informed and shaped by the needs identified by those who have been impacted by surgical mesh.

4. How is this restorative process different to other resolution/investigation processes?

This restorative process seeks to provide an opportunity for people who have been harmed by surgical mesh to share their story and identify their needs to representatives of the health sector. This is a different outcome to mediation, where the primary objective is to arrive at a solution that all parties can live with, or formal process that investigates the root causes of harm and recommends actions. Impartial facilitators from Victoria University have supported the co- design process for this first stage of listening with representatives from Mesh Down Under and the Ministry of Health. At the end of the listening process, VUW will write a report describing the impact of mesh harm, the needs of those affected by mesh harm and the responsibilities and actions identified.

5. What will come out of the restorative circle process? Will my story remain confidential? 

VUW will be producing a report at the end of the listening process to highlight key themes of the needs and harms identified. This will inform the subsequent planning and action phases of the process. No identifying information will be shared in any publication or report. 

6. Will everything I share in the circle be included in the final report? What other ways can I share my story? 

The general themes of the different harms and needs (without any identifying information) that have arisen as a result of surgical mesh will be captured and included in the final report. If you want to have your exact words recorded, you are invited to also make a written, video or audio submission. Instructions on how to do this will be available through this website after the first circles commence on July 23rd.

7. Who is going to be participating in these circles? 

Anyone who has been impacted by surgical mesh is invited to participate and is welcome to bring one support person. If your support person would also like to share how they have been impacted, please ask them to register themselves, as we aim to have a maximum of 12 people impacted by mesh per circle. Andrew Simpson and/or Margareth Broodkoorn will be there as senior representatives from Ministry of Health. The circles will be facilitated by Haley Farrar and Gerard Hoffman. Onsite emotional support will be provided by social worker, Alex Zuur and the themes and content will be documented by PhD student and researcher Jo Wailing.

8. What do I need to do in order to prepare? How much time will I have to share my story? 

There is no need to prepare anything as the circle process invites you to reflect and speak from your own experience. The circle process is designed in a way to allow everyone the opportunity to share what they need to share whilst ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak.

9. How long are the circles going to take? What if I am unable to sit for a long period of time? 

As described above, the length of a circle depends on how long everyone needs to share their story and use the time fairly. But please imagine these circles lasting somewhere between 1-3 hours. 

We recognise that many people harmed by surgical mesh will have a range of accessibility needs. Please let us know what you need in order to be as comfortable as possible on the registration form and bring whatever you need with you (cushions etc).  We will facilitate the circle based on the needs of the participants and will take breaks when needed.

10. I am coming to support someone, what do I need to know in advance? 

Please read through the information provided so you have an understanding of what the process will involve. You will be invited to introduce yourself to the group but will otherwise we ask that you are primarily there as a support for the person who is sharing their story.

11. Who can I contact if I still have more questions or issues with the registration process?  

Please feel free to get in touch with the Alex Zuur from the VUW team via or 04 463 5184 if you have any questions about the different ways to tell your story or anything related to the listening circles. Please be aware that the VUW team cannot answer any questions relating to your specific case or advocate on your behalf to any external agency.

If you are feeling stressed, anxious, worried, depressed, needing advice on mental health can call or text 1737. They have been provided information about surgical mesh and can provide brief counselling intervention services.

12. Who can I contact if I have questions about current activity and Ministry of Health’s engagement with this work? 

You can find more information from the Ministry of Health here. You may also email with questions for the Ministry of Health.