Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3670 ..
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.57): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Amendment Bill, but before I move to discussion on this important bill I just remind the Attorney-General that Duran Duran are still going strong. They released their album Paper Gods in 2015. Not everything from the 1980s has been put in the rubbish bin. But I am happy to let the fax machine go.
This bill makes practical, sensible improvements in the operation of the restorative justice program. Because we have consistently supported the purpose and intent of restorative justice we will aim to support this bill as well. In particular, we have supported the use of restorative justice with younger offenders. As far back as 2015 the use of this approach was showing results. I will quote from the Canberra Times in 2015. There is a report titled “Restorative justice program in the ACT a success”. It states:
The positive impact on victims of crime is considerable, allowing them to recover more quickly and provides greater confidence in the justice process.
And the success of the program means it may be expanded to more than young offenders.
In the same report Dr Heather Strang from Cambridge highlighted the effectiveness of restorative justice processes for serious and violent crime, revealing “reductions in trauma symptoms, anger and feelings of revenge in victims, and reductions in recidivism for offenders”.
The ACT Chief Police Officer at the time, Rudi Lammers, was equally supportive in his praise of restorative justice, concluding by saying that the courts were not the answer to everything and there was a desperate need for a different kind of justice, one that better expressed the pain that victims went through. Although RJ, or restorative justice, is by and large a successful initiative, its application does need to be carefully considered and it is not appropriate in many cases.
In addition, I would like to note that the feedback from some who have participated in RJ has indicated that it was not a positive process for them. Clearly, restorative justice can be a very confronting process. Therefore, initiatives to improve the restorative justice regime in the ACT are something that we welcome. And that is the intent of today’s bill.
The bill makes a number of amendments to the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004. Many of the clauses are technical amendments designed to remove impediments that have become apparent as the program progresses. I will not go through all those changes.
I will make note, though, of the change to the threshold for young offenders to engage in restorative justice rather than having to accept responsibility for an offence. This bill will make restorative justice an option where an offender does not deny responsibility. This change is a worthy one and the reasons behind it have been put forward in public comments by the restorative justice unit senior convenor, Tracey Lloyd, who said: