Page 4219 - Week 13 - Thursday, 19 November 2015

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The tiers of serious and less serious offences are clearly defined in the bill. Calling some offences less serious is not intended to lessen the serious nature of any offence nor the impact on or level of harm caused to victims but only to clarify the eligibility requirements for restorative justice.

The bill will also amend the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 to include the Victims of Crime Commissioner as a referring entity, which will reinforce the victim-centric nature of RJ. Expanding the operation of RJ to include more serious offences and adult offenders will increase the range of victims that may now be involved in restorative justice processes. Including the Victims of Crime Commissioner as a primary referring entity is a measure that will highlight the attention being given to victims’ rights and wellbeing.

The Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 prescribes a court as a referring entity. The amendments will allow the legal representative to apply to the court for a matter to be referred for RJ in the same way that the Director of Public Prosecutions can currently apply. Remembering that restorative justice is a voluntary process for all participants, allowing an offender’s legal representative to apply to the court for a restorative justice referral could lead to better outcomes for victims and offenders. Both the Director of Public Prosecutions and the offender’s legal representative will need to agree when the other party applies for an order that a matter be referred to restorative justice by the court, and the court will have the discretion to grant or not grant such an order.

In 2014 Australian Institute of Criminology research showed that victims have high levels of satisfaction and feel that restorative justice processes are fair. The institute also reported that emerging research shows that restorative justice may be more effective for prolific and more serious offending. These findings support the expansion of restorative justice to serious offences and endorse the ACT’s cutting-edge approach to restorative justice. Both aspects of this bill seek to introduce changes that will improve the justice system for both offenders and victims. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.

Orders of the day—postponement

Ordered that notices Nos. 5 and 6, Executive business, relating to the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 and the Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, be postponed until a later hour this day.

Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (No 2)

Mr Gentleman, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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