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Youth Conferences


Restorative justice conferences

Eligibility for the conference

The conference

How do restorative justice conferences affect a young person’s record?

Restorative justice conferences

A restorative justice conference (also known as youth justice conference or family group conference) is a meeting where people involved in an offence (including the young offender, victims and support people) talk about the offence and make decisions about how the young offender can make up for what they did . If you were between the age of 10 and 18 when you have been charged this conference can apply to you.

For example, the people at the conference might agree that you do community service, attend a rehabilitation program or write an apology to the victim.  These types of punishments are intended to promote the development of the young offender, to be a less restrictive option that is appropriate and to help the young offender accept responsibility for their offence .


Eligibility for the conference

You can attend a restorative justice conference:
  • If you are a young offender and have committed a less serious offence
  • You have accepted responsibility
  • Were at least 10 years old when the offence occurred
  • Are capable of agreeing to restorative justice and
  • Agree to be part of restorative justice.
  • Note: The victim must also agree to be involved for this system to work. 

You can be referred to restorative youth justice by:
  • Police
  • Director-general (restorative justice) or (children and young people)
  • Director of public prosecutions
  • Magistrates Courts (this includes the Childrens Court) or the Supreme Court 

Depending who refers you, restorative justice can occur after you have been cautioned, before the end of a court proceeding or after the court has made a sentence.  If you are to be referred to restorative justice the purpose and nature of the system must be explained to you. When deciding if your matter should be dealt with through a restorative justice conference, they will consider:
  •  the nature of the offence, including the level of harm caused or violence involved,
  • How appropriate it is at your current stage in the justice process
  • Any power imbalances between you and the victim, and
  • the physical and psychological effect restorative justice may have on the participants .

The conference

The conference is run by a convenor that can run the conference in a way they think is suitable for the people attending,  but they must help the participants to reach an agreement. .

Before the conference takes place, the convener must speak to you and everyone else involved.  This is to explain the purpose of the conference, who may be present in the conference and make clear that you can refuse to continue to be part of the conference at any time.

People allowed at the conference are:

  • The offender
  • A victim
  • The police officer involved
  • Parents or family members  .

The purpose of the conference is to reach an agreement that aims to repair any harm caused by the offence.  This can include an apology, voluntary community work or a fine to be paid.  The agreement must be fair in the opinion of both you (the offender) and the victim.  The agreement should be for no longer than 6 months and it starts of the date the agreement is made, unless it is agreed to start on a later date.


How do restorative justice conferences affect a young person’s record?

If a conference is held, it must be recorded. The police or courtwill usually keep  a record of:

  • The circumstances that the referral for a conference were made
  • The progress of the conference and,
  • The outcome.

The person or group who referred you to restorative justice must also keep a record of the agreement reached in the conference . While there is a database that holds all the results of restorative justice conferences, your identity is not made known to those who view it.

If you reach an agreement under the restorative justice conference, the Court cannot continue to charge you with an offence. However the conference may still show up on your record.   

This page was last updated 28 June 2015.

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