Source: (2003) Final report submitted to Queensland Department of Families, February 2003.

Community conferencing was introduced in Queensland with proclamation of the amended Juvenile Justice Act 1992. A community conference is a meeting where young offenders, their victims and supporters come together to discuss the offence and what should be done about it. In April 1997 the Queensland Department of Justice initiated a "pilot" conferencing project in two southeast jurisdictions (Logan and Ipswich). From February to May 1998, colleagues and I (Hayes et al. 1998) evaluated the two southeast projects. Results showed that participants (ie., offenders, victims and supporters) were largely satisfied with conferencing processes and felt they had been treated fairly and with respect. In this paper I summarise findings from the first conferencing and re-offending study undertaken in Queensland. The study is grounded on data collected from young offenders conferenced from April 1997 to May 1999 (N=200). The main findings are consistent with results from similar studies in New Zealand and South Australia and show that young persons’ prior offending histories bear heavily on post-conference behaviour. Just over half (51%) of young people conferenced came to their restorative event with prior officially detected offending, and a similar proportion (56%) went on to commit a further offence. While post-conference offending did occur, median annual post-conference offending rates were nominal (one offence per year). Furthermore, in Queensland, the effect of conference features in dissuading further offending behaviour was difficult to discern largely because conferences in the Queensland context are less variable events compared to other jurisdictions. That is, levels of participant satisfaction with conference events and outcomes were very high (mid- to high-90% range) and stable across participant groups; conference size and duration were not related to post-conference outcomes. Author's Abstract.