Hansard of the Legislative Council

Tuesday 5 April 2016


[2.31 p.m.]
We heard in the Education Bill briefing and this morning in Special Interest Matters about restorative practices.  I am curious about how extensive the use of restorative practices is in the Justice department now and in the work you see in your work as Attorney-General.
I will be pursuing restorative practices and how they are going to be implemented into the new Education Bill and into the system.
Mr President, I thank the honourable member for Rosevears for his question.  The Tasmania Prison Service recognises crime causes harm to people and communities and seeks to assist in repairing that harm by encouraging and supporting prisoners to participate in programs that enable them to contribute to the community.
Prison leave programs aim to promote the development of prosocial behaviours, enable prisoners to contribute to the community through the principles of restorative justice, and reduce reoffending rates.  One of the main aims of prison leave programs is to support the concept of prisoners 'giving back' to the community. 
Restorative activities that prisoners are or have been involved in include:

Government House - garden/grounds maintenance;

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens - garden/grounds maintenance;

community garden - SecondBite;

Bushfire assistance program;

Scout Association of Australia - The Lea;

Hobart City Mission;

Dogs' Home of Tasmania - Pups on Parole behaviour program in the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison;

RSPCA Mornington;

Kingborough Dog Walking Association - construction of dog exercise area;

football umpiring;

community garden - Kingston;

various projects and partnerships with Clarence City Council and Risdon Vale Neighbourhood Centre, including the Risdon Vale Creek renewal program and stone bridge construction; and

Hand made with Pride in the Mary Hutchinson Women's Prison - providing items to the Royal Hobart Hospital neonatal ward, Cancer Council, UnitingCare and the Launceston General Hospital neonatal ward.
These activities are an important part of reintegration as they allow prisoners to give back to their community.  They also increase the amount of prosocial contact prisoners have with community members, encourage development of crime-free identities and replace negative labels with positive labels, such as volunteer or skilled worker, all of which contribute to safer communities and prisoner rehabilitation.
Likewise, Community Corrections has a broad range of Community Service Order - CSO - project sites available for offenders statewide.  One of the aims of CSOs is an offender is able to repay the community for their offence.  Some key CSO projects include graffiti removal, maintenance of nature reserves and cemetery restoration through partnerships with councils, placement at various community and neighbourhood houses, assistance with community events and festivals, or providing regular assistance to pensioners.
Community Corrections continually works with community organisations to explore opportunities for future project sites. 
Victims Support Services is able to provide non-court ordered victim/offender mediation in appropriate circumstances at the request of either the victim of the crime, the family of the victim of the crime, or the offender.
Victim/offender mediation only occurs if a number of criteria are met and includes pre- and post‑counselling for both victim and offender.  It will also only occur between consenting parties.
Section 84 of the Sentencing Act 1997 provides that before a court passes sentence on an offender found guilty of an offence it may, if the victim agrees, order a mediation report.  A mediation report is a written or oral report by a mediator about any mediation or attempted mediation between the offender and a victim.  A mediation report is a written or oral report by a mediator about any mediation or attempted mediation between the offender and a victim.  It reports on the attitude of the offender to mediation, to the victim and to the effects on the victim of the commission of the offence.  It also reports on any agreement made as to actions to be taken by the offender by way of reparation. 
Young people are also assisted to stay out of the criminal justice system through a restorative justice approach, including services such as community conferences.  Under the Youth Justice Act 1997, a young person may be referred to a community conference by police or the court.  Conference outcomes may include an agreement by the young person to apologise, repair damage, undertake volunteer work or community service, or take other steps to repair the harm caused by their actions.
Outcomes from community conferences seek to ensure that young people take responsibility for their actions, make restoration and reparation, and are deterred from further offending.
Restorative practices are also used in schools in Tasmania.  Additional funding has been provided to increase restorative practices training for Department of Education staff.  This ensures that principals and teachers have a range of skills to manage student behaviours, including empowering students to talk about and manage problem behaviours.