In Queensland's justice system, a different approach to addressing guilty offenders is gaining prominence - Restorative Justice Conferences. Steering away from traditional correctional measures, restorative justice conferences focus on affected individuals and communities.
Understanding Restorative Justice in Queensland
Restorative justice goes beyond viewing a criminal offence as a legal violation; it attempts to recognise the broader societal impact the offence may have.
Queensland's approach promotes total accountability – with the goal to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. This approach is commonly sought in children’s criminal cases but can also be optional in adult cases.
To address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the justice system in particular, Queensland employs restorative justice conferences as an alternative to traditional court processes.
These conferences bring together the child offender, the victim, and their support networks to discuss the incident, its effects, and strategies for repairing harm.
For adults, restorative justice conferences provide a voluntary and facilitated meeting between the person who caused harm and those affected.
Youth Offenders: The conference involves a neutral convenor, the child offender, a support person for the child, the victim (with optional support), and others from the family or community providing support.
Adult Offenders: Participants may include the person who caused harm, the victim, and their communities of support
2. Pre-conference Preparation:
The convenor meets with each participant beforehand to explain the process, discuss who will be present, and provide insights into what might happen during the conference.
3. During the Conference:
The convenor facilitates a discussion about the incident, its effects, and feelings. The goal is to negotiate an outcome that meets the needs of the victim, is achievable, legal, and contributes to repairing the harm.
4. Post-conference Actions:
If an agreement is reached, the offender must fulfil the agreed-upon tasks. Non-compliance may result in further actions.
The process allows for discussion of the incident, its effects, and strategies for making amends.
Effectiveness of Restorative Justice
Restorative justice conferences have proven effective for several reasons, some including:
Victims can ask questions and begin the recovery process;
Offenders gain insight into the impact of their actions; and
The legally binding agreement ensures accountability.
Queensland legislation shapes the agreements arising from these conferences.
Reparative actions align with local laws and values, incorporating commitments to counselling or courses specific to Queensland's justice system.
The consideration of outcomes by law enforcement or courts adds the necessary layer of accountability.
When Restorative Justice Conferences Encounter Challenges in Queensland
Challenges can arise that lead to instances of no agreement or non-compliance. In such cases, the matter may return to the standard criminal justice process in Queensland.
Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers
Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.
Visit www.chcriminallawyers.com.au/contact-us to contact us today.