Family and community involvement in restorative justice conferencing
If a child commits an offence and admits to it, the police may refer the offence to a restorative justice process known as youth justice conferencing .
Youth justice conferencing can help to strengthen and empower families by:
- allowing them to support their child through the justice process
- including them in the decision-making process resulting from their child’s behaviour.
While it seems challenging to help your child be made accountable, or to accept and take responsibility for their behaviour in front of their victims, parents and family members who have taken part in conferences have overwhelmingly reported that they would recommend this process to a friend in a similar position.
The conferencing process encourages families to:
- actively participate in the conference and help to decide what their child should do to make things right
- help the victim understand more about their child
- help the victim recover from the offence
- identify ways to help their child avoid trouble in the future
- support their child in fulfilling their agreement
- better understand how their child was feeling at the time
- find out about the issues associated with their child’s offending behaviour
- understand the impact of their child’s behaviour
- help their child make better choices in the future.
When children feel a sense of belonging and connection to their community, they are less likely to commit crimes.
Youth justice conferencing can help children strengthen their social and personal connections with the wider community. The conference is an opportunity for the child to connect with the people affected by their behaviour and with people who may help them understand and address their behaviour.
A youth justice conference also allows for cultural and community input to ensure that the conference is appropriate to the specific community. For example, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, members of the local justice group or community Elders may be invited to participate.
As part of the child’s conference agreement, the child can be driven to participate in activities in the local community that may help them to make or have an ongoing connection with their wider community.