Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 March 2005) . . Page.. 1115 ..
introducing it to Charnwood primary. He was able to speak about his success just recently, with great passion, at a facilitative workshop at an international conference on restorative justice in Penrith.
As a result of the demonstrated benefits of restorative justice in our schools, I believe the debate on restorative justice can be broadened beyond the criminal justice system. Accordingly, on 9 March 2005, in my capacity as Chair of the Standing Committee on Education Training & Young People, I made a call for submissions to an inquiry into restorative practice in youth settings. The terms of reference for that inquiry are to examine ways in which restorative practice can be further applied. The standing committee encourages and welcomes submissions to that inquiry.
I am proud of the work that this government has done to introduce such a scheme to the ACT, I am equally proud of the Department of Justice and Community Safety in the way it has focused its efforts and resources in order to bring the scheme to fruition. It is one that I am sure will be of great benefit to our community. I look forward to seeing the report on its progress next year. I commend the motion to the Assembly and ask members for their support.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.38): Mr Speaker, on 24 to 26 February this year, the International Network for Research on Restorative Justice and the Centre for Restorative Justice, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University held a conference on the topic “Empirical findings and theory developments in restorative justice: where are we now?” The conference should not be a mystery to the government as at least one senior officer of the Department of Justice and Community Safety attended. What is worth noting is that the term “restorative justice” covers a range of concepts such as diversionary conferences in the ACT, family group conferencing in New Zealand, family conferencing in South Australia, juvenile justice teams in Western Australia and community accountability conferences in Queensland, among others.
I am joining in this debate today because Ms Porter’s devotedly one-eyed support of restorative justice, I do not think, actually helps the discussion. If Ms Porter did some more in-depth research on restorative justice she would find that the jury is definitely still out and that, in the ACT, what data exists is not encouraging.
So for Ms Porter’s benefit, I would first direct her to the work of Dr Gabrielle Maxwell of Victoria University in New Zealand as the foremost expert in the world on restorative justice. I then suggest that she read a paper presented at the conference in February, called “Restorative justice: why it doesn’t work in reducing recidivism”. The author of this paper is one Richard Parker. Mr Parker is the principal psychologist in the rehabilitation programs unit in the Department of Justice and Community Safety. I wonder if the Attorney-General bothered to read Mr Parker’s paper before introducing his latest restorative justice bill.
I would also direct Ms Porter to another paper presented at the conference, by Dr Lawrence Sherman, which has some frankly disturbing data on restorative justice. For example, in juvenile property crime, Dr Sherman found that participants in RJ recorded a rate of 59.1 more arrests per year per 100 offenders. Participants in conventional justice recorded 18.9 fewer arrests per year per 100 offenders. That is, restorative justice leads to increased re-offending and property crime.