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Lessons from the mediation obsession: Ensuring that sentencing ‘alternatives’ focus on indigenous self-determination

Behrendt, Larissa
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) In Restorative justice and family violence, ed. Heather Strang and John Braithwaite, 178-190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Indigenous people in Australia are over-represented in the criminal justice system. Additionally, indigenous people – whether as victims, offenders, or families of victims or offenders – experience cultural conflict when they intersect the criminal justice system. In this context, Lisa Behrendt explores the legacies of colonization and lessons that can be learned from other attempts to address crime and resolve conflict among indigenous people. For, according to her, cultural conflict arises for indigenous people not only in relation to the legal system, but also in relation to other alternative dispute resolution models, such as mediation. Behrendt therefore urges the right to self-determination in a holistic approach to breaking the adverse legacies of colonization. In this perspective, diversionary efforts to address crime and resolve conflict – including specific programs for conferencing and alternative dispute resolution – would derive from and support the holistic pursuit of indigenous self-determination.


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