Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 22 February 2018) . . Page.. 613 ..
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cheyne for the question on this important area. It is certainly timely for the Assembly to receive an update on the work that is going ahead on making Canberra a restorative city. I note that there is a gathering of the restorative communities network today, and there is a forum here this evening.
Earlier this year the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the ACT spoke about the importance of restorative practices in criminal justice. Her Honour’s comments emphasised the importance of a court process that ensures that victims have a voice in the justice system. This government recognises that an accessible justice system is one where the voices of those who seek its protection are heard, and heard well. We are developing ways to make the justice system even more timely, transparent and accessible through restorative practices.
The ACT Law Reform Advisory Council is currently developing a report on this very question, and looking at models around Australia and overseas that offer lessons for Canberra. They will report this year on ways to make Canberra a restorative city. I am looking forward to receiving their recommendations.
MS CHEYNE: Minister, can you give some examples of how adopting restorative practices will make Canberra safer?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cheyne for the supplementary question. Indeed, restorative practices are key to reaching this government’s ambitious goal of a 25 per cent reduction in recidivism by 2025. Restorative approaches involve making the community whole again after there is conflict, crime or loss. Holding people responsible for crime can happen simultaneously while addressing the underlying causes of their behaviour. That is why we are investing in the development of a drug and alcohol court for the ACT.
Drug and alcohol courts are an example of therapeutic justice where the outcome sought is not just punishment but treatment of the underlying cause of offending. We know from the evidence that reaching people with the right services at the right point of time in their contact with the justice system helps to build stronger people, stronger families and stronger communities. The drug and alcohol court will help to bring this approach to the criminal justice system and help to reduce recidivism by treating people whose crimes are primarily the result of addiction.
MS CODY: Minister, can you provide some more detail about how restorative practices help the broader community, not just those in the criminal justice system?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cody for the supplementary question. Yes, indeed, decisions about services, disputes between neighbours and many other everyday processes can benefit from a fresh look at restorative practices. Our community legal centres play a key role in bringing a restorative approach to the justice system. The Women’s Legal Centre’s well-developed referral service is a great example. They help connect vulnerable women with support for more than just their legal issues: housing, support to end family and domestic violence, and family counselling are just some of the ways that the Women’s Legal Centre can help their clients.