1RMIT University, Warragul, VIC
Restorative justice has been the subject of a vast amount of research throughout past decades. This body of work has consistently highlighted the benefits of a restorative approach to offending, including increasing satisfaction with the justice system, diverting offenders, addressing the needs and enhancing the recovery of victims, holding offenders accountable and providing a means to make amends for crime. However despite the significant international evidence in support of restorative justice programs, literature highlights that it is rarely utilised to its potential. In fact, it has been noted that restorative justice is an innovation that is over researched and under used.
Victoria, it appears is no exception. The Youth Justice Group Conferencing program operates within the Victorian Youth Justice system as the primary restorative justice approach to offending. In 2017, the Victorian Youth Justice Review concluded that restorative justice approaches were limited within the system and under-utilised. Further, an official recommendation was made to expand the use of restorative justice. Additional longstanding evidence also confirms this conclusion. While literature has identified that the Youth Justice Group Conferencing program is not utilised optimally, it is unclear why this is the case. This research seeks to explore the current use of Youth Justice Group Conferencing throughout Victoria and identify potential barriers to program use. The research will draw upon qualitative data from interviews with professionals within the program and relevant academics with expertise on the topic.
Isabella Clarke is an Honours student at RMIT University. She obtained her BA in Criminal Justice in 2017 and is currently conducting research on the use of the Youth Justice Group Conferencing Program in Victoria. Her research interests include restorative justice and the use of diversionary programs with young people in the justice system. In addition to her research, Isabella is a member of the Dame Phyllis Frost Think Tank, which works in collaboration with DPFC inmates to create policy recommendations for Corrections Victoria.
Isabella also volunteers for Jesuit Social Services in the Youth Justice Group Conferencing Program.