Restorative justice is an internationally recognised evidence-based response to criminal behaviour. It views a criminal offence as more than an act of breaking the law and examines:
- the impact on society
- the harm caused to the victim, family relationships and the community.
The restorative justice process requires effort and participation from the child, which differs from traditional justice responses.
A restorative justice conference is a meeting between a child who has committed a crime and the people most affected by that crime to discuss:
- what happened
- the effects of the offence
- repairing the harm caused to the victim.
The Restorative Justice Project: 12-Month Program Evaluation (PDF, 2.5MB) examines performance and early outcomes during the first 12 months of operation after the reintroduction of court referrals.
- Following the reintroduction of court referrals on 1 July 2016, there was a 151% increase in referrals to restorative justice conferencing—increasing from 839 referrals (police referrals) in 2015–16 to 2,110 referrals in 2016–17 (police and court referrals).
- Restorative justice conferencing is having a positive impact on reducing re-offending rates, with 59% of young people not reoffending within 6 months of their conference.
- Restorative justice resulted in positive outcomes for victims and communities, including apologies, volunteer work for victims or communities and young people producing items for victims (e.g. sorry paintings or poems).
- Over 70% of victims reported that the conference process helped them to 'manage the effects of crime'.
- One in 5 agreements involved young people undertaking counselling or educational programs.
- Young people were highly compliant in completing their agreements (96% of finalised agreements in 2016–17).
The Restorative Justice Case studies report (PDF, 949KB) provides in-depth examples of social, wellbeing and cultural outcomes achieved through restorative justice conferencing. The case studies also provide a practitioner account of the conferencing process and include reflections about key elements of best practice.