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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2727 ..

process was fair to offenders, and 96 per cent would recommend the process to someone else. It was a very strong endorsement of the program. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what will the expansion of the ACT’s restorative justice scheme entail?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Fitzharris for the supplementary. The expansion of restorative justice will, first of all, bring adult offenders for the first time into the scope of the program, and it will be done in two stages. The first stage will focus on all types of offence categories and offenders except domestic violence and sexual assault matters. The second phase will include those matters, and that will commence later, in two years time, in 2018. The reason for that is to ensure that we have an appropriately recruited, trained and ready-to-go capability that deals with those most complex of matters—sexual assault and domestic violence matters.

To this end the Justice and Community Safety Directorate has developed guidelines for the management of domestic violence offences and is consulting with key stakeholders to develop guidelines for the management of sexual offences referred to restorative justice. These guidelines are intended to be a robust set of principles and procedures that build on the suitability criteria set out in the legislation to deal with the particular power dynamics that are often inherent when it comes to sexual assault and domestic violence matters. This will ensure that there are safeguards to limit risks through a thorough assessment, intensive preparation, constant monitoring, and professional advice and support.

But the great benefit of this is that there will be many more types of offences and offenders and, most importantly, victims of crime who will be able to have a greater opportunity for restoration, capacity to move on with their lives, because they will potentially have access to the restorative justice conferencing program. That is particularly important in the age cohort 18 through to about 24 where there is a large number of offenders, mostly young men, and the capacity to divert them to restorative justice or in parallel with a process involving conviction through the courts will provide better restoration for victims and better opportunity for victims to move on with their lives. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Attorney, can you explain how restorative justice meets the needs of victims of crime?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for his supplementary question. Yes, the focus of the government’s restorative justice program is victim-centric—it is focused overwhelmingly on benefit to and the needs of the victim. The strength of the RJ process is in delivering the emotional restoration that victims seek, especially in receiving an apology from their offenders that they consider to be sincere and meant. This is an outcome in around 90 per cent of restorative justice programs. It is not, unfortunately, an outcome that is often seen in the traditional court process.

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