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Community Conferencing and the Fiction of Indigenous Control

Cunneen, Chris
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 30(3): 292-311. Reprinted in Restorative Justice. Declan Roche (2003), ed. Pp. 335-354. The International Library of Essays in Law & Legal Theory, Second Series. Aldershot, Hants, England: Dartmouth/Ashgate.

The paper analyses the use of community conferencing for young people in various jurisdictions in Australia in the light of its impact in Indigenous communities. It argues that the manner in which these programs have been introduced has ignored Aboriginal rights to self-determination and has grossly simplified Indigenous mechanisms for resolving conflicts. In most jurisdictions, community conferencing has reinforced the role of state police and done little to ensure greater control over police discretionary decision-making. The changes have also been introduced in the context of more punitive law and order policies, including mandatory minimum imprisonment terms and repeat offender legislation for juveniles. The end result is likely to be greater bifurcation of the juvenile justice system along racialised boundaries, with Indigenous youth receiving more punitive outcomes. Author’s abstract.


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