Source: (2009) In, Margerie Segrave, ed., Critical Criminology Conference. Conference proceedings Australian and New Zealand Criminology Conference. School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University. pp.182-193.

Restorative practices have often been considered both as emerging from the customs of Indigenous peoples, and ways of responding to crime that might be most suitable for Indigenous individuals and communities. This paper, which consists of two parts, will reconsider these claims from a critical perspective. The first part of the paper draws on my Ph.D. research on the emergence of restorative justice in Western criminal justice systems. It will argue that although many advocates of restorative justice uncritically and unproblematically accept that restorative practices emerged from the customs of Indigenous peoples, the relationship between Indigenous justice customs and the emergence of restorative justice is much more nuanced than proponents imply. The paper will examine, therefore, the legitimating rationalities associated with the diverse historical ‘truths’ obscured in advocates’ accounts of the role of Indigenous customs and the emergence of restorative justice. The second section draws on the findings of recent research undertaken at the Australian Institute of Criminology, and will present data on the numbers of Indigenous juveniles who participate in restorative conferences in each jurisdiction. These data will be used to elucidate the disparity between the rhetoric or ‘promise’ of restorative justice, and its apparent impact in relation to Indigenous juveniles. This paper will conclude with a consideration of the continued relevance of restorative justice for Indigenous young people in Australia. (author's abstract)