University of Tasmania
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Juvenile conferencing and restorative justice in Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-26, 03:21 authored by Prichard, J
This thesis concerns recent innovations in the way that criminal justice systems deal with young offenders, namely through a process that is sometimes generically referred to as 'juvenile conferencing'. Juvenile conferences have been instituted across Australia and in numerous other countries. Empirical research was conducted in Tasmania, a small island state of Australia with a population of less than half a million people. Australia is a federation of six States (Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia) and two territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). On European settlement of Tasmania (then Van Diemen's Land) the English common law was adopted and applied. It was later modified by the Governor on the advice of the Legislative Council and later the Parliament of Van Diemen's Land. With Federation in 1901 the Commonwealth was not granted an express power to legislate on criminal law matters. Consequently, the States retained primary responsibility for their own criminal laws. The main sources of criminal law that concern this thesis are Tasmania's Criminal Code (established under the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) and other State legislation, particularly the Youth Justice Act 1997 (Tas). The timing of the beginning of the research was fortunate. It began in January 2000, one month before Tasmania's youth justice system was completely restructured with the proclamation of the Youth Justice Act 1997 (Tas). Previously the police had two options when dealing with young offenders who had admitted to an offence: to caution the youth and not proceed with the matter, or to refer the matter to the children's court. The Act introduced a four-tiered system involving informal cautions, formal cautions, community conferences, and the children's court. The first two tiers, the informal and formal cautions, are processes conducted by the police. Formal cautions are held at police stations and usually include the offender's parents. Unlike any other Australian formal cautioning system, victims can attend formal cautions in Tasmania. Formal cautions can result in the young offender agreeing to complete undertakings, including up to 35 hours community service and actions to repair the damage caused to the victim. Community conferences, the third tier, are based on a format developed in New Zealand called family group conferences. Both formal cautions and community conferences can deal with quite serious offences, such as sexual assault, wounding, and grievous bodily harm.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2004 the author

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