Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Restorative Justice and Sex Offences

Greg Barnes, a barrister and director of the Australian Lawyers Alliances, raised the issue in The Age today about the possibility of legislating for an alternative system involving mediation and therapeutic justice for sex offences.  There are times at SECASA when victims have asked for a family conference with an offending family member.In several countries there are various types of mediated approaches for sex offences.  It would not be a step forward to legislate for these types of conferences based on the seriousness of the offence.  The problem with categorising offences into serious and non serious is that it ignores the compexities of the situation when the abuse is intra familial.  Whilst supporting an additional set of options for victims SECASA would not support a mandatory mediated system based on penetrative or non penetrative offences.  As we can see from the current distress around the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into The Handling of Sexual Abuse of Children in Religious and Other Non Government Organisation and the recently establish Royal Commission victims have very strong views on what should happen to offenders.  Any alternate system need to be driven by victims.  If victims wish to face their offender it is the responsiblity of Government and CASAs to facilitate this process not the courts or the justice system to tell victims the crime against them is not seen as serious enough to go to court and it will be mediated.

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