YOUTH JUSTICE GROUP CONFERENCING
A problem-solving approach to youth offending, group conferencing aims to balance the needs of young people, victims and the community by encouraging dialogue between individuals who have offended and their victims.
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Youth Justice Group Conferencing is a case conferencing program for young people who have been found guilty or have pleaded guilty to an offence in the Children’s Court. The program aims to address a young person’s offending behaviour by providing an opportunity to realise the impact of the offence on the victim, their family and the community.
Engagement in group conferencing provides each young person with a convener who assists with case management, increasing their support networks and minimising the likelihood of re-offending.
The conference process involves the convenor, the client, the client’s legal representative, a police officer, the victim and their chosen supports, supports for the client and professionals from the community such as a school welfare officer, a sports coach or employer. The conference can last up to 2 hours.
At the group conference all participants, in particular the young person and the victim, have the opportunity to tell their story, what happened and how the offence has affected them. By participating in the group conference the victim has a real voice in determining what the young person might do to address the harm they have caused.
When all people have had the opportunity to tell their story, participants are invited to provide suggestions about how the young person might repair the harm caused by their offending and prevent further offending.
An outcome plan is written summarising the agreement and what actions will be taken to remedy the offence.
While group conferencing can be a confronting experience for all involved, attending provides a safe environment for the victim to:
- Face the young person
- Talk about how their actions have affected them
- Ask questions about the offence
Victim participation in a group conference is voluntary. Victims are encouraged to be supported by a family member, friend or a Victims Support Agency.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Referrals to Youth Justice Group Conferencing are made via the Children’s Court of Victoria.
If a Magistrate is considering Group Conferencing as a sentencing option for a young person, they will stand the matter down for the Convenor and Department of Health and Human Services Youth Justice to conduct a thorough assessment. For further information about the Youth Justice Group Conferencing program please call (03) 5337 8999