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Police-referred restorative justice for juveniles in Australia

Juvenile offenders Restorative justice Youth justice Australia


During the 1990s, restorative justice became firmly established as a new approach for responding to juvenile crime. Restorative justice measures are most commonly used to divert juvenile offenders from the formal criminal justice system, although they also exist in a variety of other contexts across Australia’s jurisdictions, such as in circle sentencing and victim-offender mediation programs for adult offenders (Daly & Proietti-Scifoni 2009). Although there are many definitions of restorative justice, the following definition by Marshall (1996: 37) has gained widespread acceptance: ‘[restorative justice is] a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future’. While the rationale for restorative justice programs varies among Australian jurisdictions, in general, restorative justice measures seek to repair the harm caused by crime, to actively involve offenders, victims and communities in the criminal justice process and to provide a constructive intervention for juvenile offending.

This paper provides an overview of the legislative and policy context of restorative justice practices for juveniles in each Australian state and territory. It also outlines recent data that indicate the numbers and characteristics of juveniles referred to restorative justice programs by police and the offences for which they are referred, where these data are available. This paper is exploratory in nature and aims to identify future research issues relating to restorative justice for juveniles in Australia.

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Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, no.398