Source: (2008) Queensland University of Technology Law and Justice Journal. 8(2): 380-391.

Restorative justice is firmly established in Australian juvenile justice. While the official language used to describe restorative initiatives varies across states and territories, the most common form is a meeting or conference between young offenders and their victims (most commonly known as a family group or youth justice conference). During the past decade, an impressive amount of empirical research has examined how the restorative justice process affects offenders, victims and other participants (such as supporters for young offenders and victims). Results from this line of research are remarkably consistent and show that participants generally regard restorative conferences as procedurally fair and that they are satisfied with the outcomes (eg what young offenders agree to do to make up for their offending behaviour, such as offer a sincere apology or perform work for the victim or the community). What is less common, however, is the perception among participants that restorative conferences achieve the key aim of restoration. By ‘restoration’ we refer to encounters where ‘offenders apologise, their apologies are accepted, victims offer forgiveness, and conferences conclude with a feeling of mutual good will’. This research asks why this is so, and proposes that restoration and the development of ethical identities in young offenders is more difficult to achieve in a conference process that relies on traditional governing practices. (excerpt)