Adult restorative justice conferencing

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    An Adult restorative justice conference brings together the victim and the offender to talk about how they can address the harm caused by criminal behaviour.

    Before participating in adult restorative justice conferencing you should get legal advice.

    What is restorative justice?

    An adult restorative justice conference (formerly called justice mediation) is a facilitated meeting between the person who has caused harm (the offender) and the people most affected by it (usually the victim).

    Restorative justice provides an opportunity for the victim to tell their story and to hold the person who caused the harm accountable for their actions.

    It also provides an opportunity for the person who caused the harm to take responsibility for their actions and take steps towards repairing that harm.

    The conference is run to discuss:

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

    Participation is voluntary for both the victim and the offender. Victims and offenders are encouraged to bring a support person or people to the conference.

    Who can refer a matter to Adult restorative justice conferencing?

    Criminal matters can be referred to Adult restorative justice conferencing at any stage of the criminal justice process. Matters can be referred by police, prosecutor, Court or corrective services.

    How long does a conference take?

    The conference usually takes around 2 hours, depending on the number of people involved and the nature of the harm resulting from the offence.

    What could be the result?

    An offender might agree to take steps to repair the harm caused by the offence, including:

    • writing a letter of apology
    • return stolen property
    • provide restitution for (substantiated) losses associated with the offence, such as damage to property, or medical expenses
    • provide compensation in recognition of the harm caused

    An offender might also agree to:

    • participate in counselling, or a course to address the offending behaviour
    • make a donation to charity

    Agreements reached between victims and offenders in restorative justice conferences are recorded in writing. If the offender does everything they have said they'll do, the outcome may be taken into account by police or the Courts in deciding how to deal with the matter.

    What if the restorative justice conference doesn't work out?

    If no agreement is reached, the offender doesn't comply with the terms of the agreement or they don’t turn up, Adult restorative justice conferencing will usually return the matter to police or the court, who will decide what to do. Usually, if this occurs, the matter will continue through the criminal process.

    If I’m the victim, can I get financial assistance?

    Yes. You may be able to apply to Victim Assist Queensland for financial help. Financial assistance may also be accessed through the Adult restorative justice conferencing process. However, you can't access assistance for the same losses through both processes.

    Do I need legal advice?

    You may need legal advice if you:

    • have been asked to participate in a restorative justice conference and you aren't sure what to do
    • participated in a restorative justice conference that didn't work out.

    How to get legal advice

    We may give legal advice about justice mediation for adults.

    The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

    Community legal centres may give free preliminary legal advice and information on some criminal law matters. Most centres don’t provide legal representation. Contact them to find out if they can help.

    Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice and representation.

    Who else can help?

    These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.

    The Queensland Government website has information about Adult restorative justice conferencing, including information for defendants and for complainants.

    Victim Assist Queensland helps victims of crime with financial help, information and referrals for support services.

    Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

    Last updated 13 April 2021