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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4071..

Amendment negatived.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6.

MRS DUNNE (5.06): Mr Speaker, I will not be proceeding with the amendment circulated because it was consequential upon my amendment No 1.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Crimes (Restorative Justice) Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 5 August 2004, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (5.07): Mr Speaker, I will be supporting this bill in principle, although the irony of this debate does not escape me. This bill seeks to remove people from the criminal justice system and set up more positive outcomes and aid in rehabilitation. These are all things that we should be supporting. However, recently we have debated government bills that have increased the penalties for minor offences and we have seen the government vote against sentencing reforms, actions that, to me, seem to be at odds with what the government is proposing in this bill.

Nonetheless, restorative justice is an important concept to support. Plenty of research has been gathered that shows that the overall majority of both victims and offenders find that conferencing is fair and does have satisfying outcomes. The ACT has had conferencing for some time on a small scale. For youth violence offenders, the reoffending rates were significantly lower for those who attended conferencing versus those who went to court.

A recent study in New South Wales found that conferencing reduced the rates of reoffending by between 15 and 20 per cent, and this fall was consistent across different offence types and regardless of the gender, criminal history, age or Aboriginality of the offenders. A more comprehensive study earlier in New Zealand found that, while 29 per cent of first offenders did reoffend five or more times, 28 per cent did not reoffend at all in the five-year observation period.

This report found that indicators of negative life events, such as poverty or a neglected childhood, and what happened after the conferencing-unemployment and criminal association-were significant factors and predicators of a likelihood of reoffending. However, the report also found several key factors from conferencing that had an impact on reducing the likelihood of reoffending-if the conference was memorable and the offender was not made to feel like a bad person, when they had agreed to participate and participated and complied with the outcome decision, when they had met the victim and

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