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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4079..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

Terry O'Connell of Real Justice, a group that works to promote conferencing in many situations, says that for restorative practices to be effective in changing offender behaviour his group tries to avoid scolding or lecturing. He said:

When offenders are exposed to other people's feelings and discover how victims and others have been affected by their behaviour, they may feel empathy for others. When scolded or lectured, they act offensively. They see themselves as victims and are distracted from noticing other people's feelings.

In this experience the best results for victims, the achievement of the aims we have for victims, are dependent on that balanced approach. I support this bill and I look forward to seeing how it actually works out and the results of the review that will occur.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (5.36), in reply: Mr Speaker, I am very pleased with the support and understanding of members of the Assembly with the restorative justice initiative and framework inherent in the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Bill 2004. Ms Tucker has indicated that she has some amendments in relation to issues around some aspects of the proposed ambit or scope of the restorative justice conferencing that will be part of the restorative justice unit. I will address those issues when we get to that stage.

In closing, the bill creates a framework for a scheme of restorative justice that is an expansion of the small program that has been run for some time now by ACT Policing to create a system available throughout the entire criminal justice system. The details of the expanded system are based on the issues paper of the restorative justice subcommittee for sentencing review, comprising representatives of all justice sector agencies. Consultation with the community through focus groups and a call for public submissions provided further clarity to the recommendations of the issues paper.

It is important to note that the interests of victims are of primary importance in the expanded scheme of restorative justice. In the traditional prosecution of an offence, a victim usually has few, if any, opportunities to address his or her needs. The expanded restorative justice system provided for through this legislation will provide victims with the opportunity to talk about the impact of the offence on them and their families. In this way, victims of crime can better understand the offence and the offender's behaviour and express that in a formal setting.

The scheme is also designed to have a constructive impact upon offenders through enabling them to accept responsibility and to acknowledge the impact of their actions in a way that allows them to be reintegrated into the community. It is of central importance to note that the new restorative justice scheme will augment the criminal justice system rather than replacing it or providing a substitute for traditional criminal justice procedures. The expanded restorative justice system provides no new positive or negative consequences nor any statutory advantage or disadvantage for any participant in the process.

Accepting responsibility for an offence in restorative justice creates no obligation for an accused to plead guilty should the matter return to court. Restorative justice does not


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