Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 4 Hansard (16 March) . . Page.. 1112..
MS PORTER (continuing):
internationally renowned, were conducting the reintegrative shaming experiment, known as RISE, in partnership with the AFP. I understand that data from that trial is still being analysed and continues to inform debate on the efficacy of restorative justice.
The ACT has now built upon that experience. After extensive community consultation, the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 represents a model of restorative justice that the community itself supports. The focus of the act is victims of crime and the repair of harm caused to them by criminal offences, whilst at the same time having restorative impact on the offender. The key vehicle to achieve these aims is the facilitated conference between the victim and the offender. This enables the offence, its impact on those directly and indirectly involved and the explanation of what can be done to repair the harm, to be discussed. Victims and offenders have the right not to participate in the restorative process and may withdraw at any stage.
The act will be introduced in two phases linked to the class of offender and the type of offence. The first phase, for less serious offences only, commenced on 31 January 2005 and covers only offences committed by juveniles. Family violence and sexual offences are excluded from this first phase. The second phase will commence in 2006 and will apply to all offences committed by juveniles and adults.
There are a number of unique features to the ACT scheme. The first, its intention to encompass all types of offence in the second phase, is considered by many practitioners, including Terry O'Connell, to be commendable. Terry O'Connell is a former police officer who pioneered the process while serving in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. It is also an indication the government's commitment and belief in the worth of restorative justice.
Secondly, the fact that young people and adults will be eligible to participate is progressive. The government is convinced that victims of all crimes should have equal access to restorative justice processes, regardless of the category of the offence or the age of the offender.
Thirdly, police personnel are actually embedded in the Restorative Justice Unit. Police will continue to conduct conferences that are referred by their organisation but they will do so under the management of the Restorative Justice Unit.
Another unique feature of the ACT scheme is that the objects of the act are designed so that restorative justice augments the criminal justice process. In this sense, restorative justice processes in the ACT may run parallel with existing criminal justice processes. To achieve the separation of these processes, an offender may accept responsibility for an offence without its affecting his or her capacity to plead not guilty to the offence at a later court hearing. This is considered to be an imaginative solution to the concerns raised when a restorative justice scheme is established within the context of criminal justice processes.
I am pleased to advise that an offence will be able to be referred to restorative justice at each stage of the criminal justice continuum. This is another feature of the ACT scheme and will serve to maximise access to the scheme for offenders and victims. Finally, the scheme's effectiveness will be held to account by the statutory requirement for it to be