Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3675 ..
The progress report, as I have said, shows that we are on the right track to achieve the aim of the blueprint: to reduce the rate of youth recidivism, detention and remand, as well as the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system. However, the mid-term report also showed a decrease in the total number of young people referred to restorative justice, and these declined by 35 per cent, from 190 to 123, between 2011-12 and 2015-16. I note that this may, of course, be due in part to the 39 per cent decline in the number of young people apprehended by police during that same period. However, we need to ensure that unnecessary barriers are not preventing young people’s participation in restorative justice processes.
Measures such as the important amendments in this bill will help to ensure that young people who are apprehended for less serious offences can benefit, as of course can their victims, when young people take responsibility through the restorative justice process. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety and Minister for Mental Health) (12.16), in reply: This bill amends the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 to provide increased opportunities for victims of crime to access restorative justice in the ACT. It does this by removing legislative barriers which have limited, and in some cases prevented, referrals from being made to the restorative justice scheme.
A key government priority is to ensure that victims of crime have the opportunity to access restorative justice if and when they need or want it. Restorative justice is a voluntary process whereby all parties who have a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future.
The ACT has a long and proud history as a national leader in the use of restorative justice. We are the only jurisdiction to have enacted legislation that specifically relates to the operation of a restorative justice scheme.
Our scheme has delivered, and continues to deliver, positive outcomes for victims of crime. Since it commenced in 2005, offenders have provided more than $200,000 in reparation to victims of crime and completed more than 7,400 hours of volunteer work for community organisations at the request of the victim of crime. I understand that participants in restorative justice processes are surveyed about their experiences of the process once a conference has taken place. Ninety-eight per cent of survey respondents reported feeling satisfied with their experience of restorative justice conferencing in 2017-18. Victims have also reported that participation in restorative justice has helped them to better understand what happened, to sleep better at night and to regain a sense of control following their experience of crime.
The ACT scheme currently allows for referrals to be made for offences involving young and adult offenders, for less serious and serious offences, and at points across the entire criminal justice system. I am pleased to confirm that the scheme will expand