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Restorative justice in the Australian criminal justice system

Research and Public Policy Series no.127

Jacqueline Joudo Larsen
ISBN 978 1 922009 60 9 ISSN 1836-2079
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, February 2014

Abstract | In 2001, Heather Strang prepared a report for the Criminology Research Council summarising restorative justice programs in Australia. Since that time, restorative justice practices have become mainstream in Australian juvenile justice and have been extended for use with adult offenders. The question, ‘does it work?’ is asked of all interventions in the criminal justice field and is most often answered by assessing the impact on reoffending. On this point, the evidence for restorative justice remains mixed. However, the literature is replete with reports of high levels of victim satisfaction and feelings that the process is fair. Further, while some significant issues remain, research conducted to date consistently demonstrates that restorative justice programs work at least as well as formal criminal justice responses. The purpose of this report is twofold; to describe and provide an overview of restorative justice programs in Australia in order to build on Heather Strang’s 2001 review and provide an assessment of current and future issues facing restorative justice practice.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the youth justice, corrections, courts, victim support and justice agencies across Australia for providing information regarding current programs that are described in section two of this report, as well as reviewing relevant sections of the report prior to release.

The author would also like to acknowledge and thank Dr Heather Strang whose feedback on earlier versions of this report was greatly appreciated. Thanks are also extended to two anonymous reviewers and colleagues at the Australian Institute of Criminology who provided comments on an earlier draft of this report.

The assistance of staff at the JV Barry Library, particularly Lepa Petrovic, Janine Chandler and Maureen Lee in the identification and collection of bibliographic information contained in this report is also greatly appreciated.