Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3153..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 was drafted to support and guide the operation of the expanded scheme and it commenced operation on 31 January 2005. The act created a small, dedicated restorative justice unit which functions as a central point for referral, assessment and delivery of conferences.
ACT Policing had conducted diversionary restorative justice conferences in the ACT since 1994. I am pleased to note that ACT Policing's commitment to conferencing has continued under the new administrative arrangements, with police officers working within the unit to convene police-referred matters.
The government is introducing the new model of restorative justice in two phases. A phased introduction is being followed to allow the legislative framework and administrative protocols to be developed. The act provides for a review to be conducted after the introduction of each phase and sets out the indicators against which the review is to report. The first phase currently in operation is the subject of this review. It applies to less serious offences committed by young people. The second phase opens the scheme to adult offenders. Serious offences, including domestic violence and sexual assault, are also included in phase 2.
I have delayed the implementation of phase 2 to enable the findings of this review to inform the introduction of the next stage. I am aware that there is concern amongst community sector agencies about domestic violence and sexual assault offences being included in phase 2. I have asked that my department consult with those community sector agencies to address the concerns being raised about victim safety for these matters.
I have also asked for guidelines to be drawn up that will clearly set out how those risks are to be managed for domestic violence and sexual assault matters. It is important that the relevant community sector agencies are consulted in the development of those guidelines. Once those guidelines are prepared, I will consider the implications for introducing phase 2. In the meantime, the findings of this review that I have tabled today are very encouraging.
Restorative justice brings those most affected by crime together, with their supporters, to talk about what happened, how people have been affected and what should be done to repair the harm caused by the crime. At conferences, agreements are formed between victims and young people responsible for offences whereby the young people agree to do something to repair the harm they have caused.
Criminal justice agencies, particularly ACT Policing but also the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Children's Court, are using restorative justice to meet the needs of victims and to address offending behaviour of young people. Victim satisfaction with the scheme is very high, with 92 per cent of victims reporting they were satisfied with the outcome of their conference and 98 per cent saying that the agreement formed between them and the young person responsible for the offence was fair.
Victims have received written and verbal apologies for what has happened to them, financial restitution for their losses, and community work aimed at repairing the harm done to the community. Victims are reporting decreased levels of fear, anxiety and anger