In a tale of resilience and understanding, 15 year old Nathan* has turned his life around through the power of restorative justice.

Previously homeless and struggling with methamphetamine use, Nathan* found himself in trouble with the law after a desperate bag snatch in a carpark.

The victim, Carla, was left frightened and shaken by the attack, which significantly impacted her daily life and sense of security. She became scared to go out alone and no longer felt safe using public transport.

Nathan was referred to a restorative justice conference. Carla, determined to understand the motives behind the attack and reclaim her peace of mind, agreed to participate. Her main question for Nathan was simple, yet profound: “Why did you do it?”

During the conference, Carla shared the difficulties she faced caring for her children while living in constant fear. Her heartfelt account revealed the deep emotional scars left by the incident.

In turn, Nathan opened up about his struggles. Having left home months ago with no means to support himself he resorted to a desperate measure in a moment of hunger and need. Nathan admitted he did not fully grasp the impact of his actions beyond the immediate theft—to him it was just a pinched wallet.

This candid exchange marked a turning point for Nathan. Hearing Carla's perspective helped him realise the profound effect his actions had on her life. Offering a sincere apology, Nathan expressed his remorse and agreed to undertake voluntary work as a way to make amends and help repair the harm.

The restorative justice process also had a positive impact on Carla. She gained a deeper understanding of Nathan's circumstances at the time of his offending, and she appreciated the opportunity to be directly involved in the resolution process.

Since the conference, Nathan has had no further contact with the police and is focused on building a better future.

This case highlights the potential for restorative justice to facilitate understanding and rehabilitation, benefiting both victims and offenders.

Last updated 12 July 2024

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)