Restorative justice conferencing

Restorative justice is an internationally recognised evidence-based response to criminal behaviour. It views a criminal offence as more than an act of breaking the law and examines:

  • the impact on society
  • the harm caused to the victim, family relationships and the community.

The restorative justice process requires effort and participation from the child, which differs from traditional justice responses.

A restorative justice conference is a meeting between a child who has committed a crime and the people most affected by that crime to discuss:

  • what happened
  • the effects of the offence
  • repairing the harm caused to the victim.

Evaluation

The Restorative Justice Project: 12-Month Program Evaluation (PDF, 2.5 MB) examines performance and early outcomes during the first 12 months of operation after the reintroduction of court referrals.

Key findings

  • Following the reintroduction of court referrals on 1 July 2016, there was a 151% increase in referrals to restorative justice conferencing — increasing from 839 referrals (police referrals) in 2015-16 to 2110 referrals in 2016-17 (police and court referrals).
  • Restorative justice conferencing is having a positive impact on reducing re-offending rates, with 59% of young people not reoffending within six months of their conference.
  • Restorative justice resulted in positive outcomes for victims and communities, including apologies, volunteer work for victims or communities and young people producing items for victims (e.g. sorry paintings or poems).
  • Over 70% of victims reported that the conference process helped them to ‘manage the effects of crime’.
  • One in five agreements involved young people undertaking counselling or educational programs.
  • Young people were highly compliant in completing their agreements (96% of finalised agreements in 2016-17).

The Restorative Justice Case studies report (PDF, 949 KB) provides in-depth examples of social, wellbeing and cultural outcomes achieved through restorative justice conferencing. The case studies also provide a practitioner account of the conferencing process and include reflections about key elements of best practice.

Outcome and economic evaluation

KPMG has been commissioned to undertake an outcome and economic evaluation of restorative justice conferencing (RJC). The evaluation will assess whether RJC has achieved its intended criminogenic and social outcomes. It will also provide an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of RJC including if there are cost-savings associated with reductions in reoffending and diversions from the Children’s Court.