Locating the Community in Restorative Justice for Young People in Australia

Published 18/06/2014
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Kelly Richards
Corresponding Authors Dr Kelly Richards, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

The concept of the community is a key component of restorative justice theory and practice. In restorative justice scholarship, the community is constructed, alongside the victim and offender, as having a crucial role to play in responding to crimes in a restorative way. Indeed, it is often claimed that the perceived need for the community to be involved in responding to crime was a key rationale for the emergence of restorative practices around the world. Taking the emergence of youth justice conferencing – the most commonly-utilised restorative practice in Australia – as a case study, this article argues, however, that the idea of the community was peripheral to the emergence of restorative justice in Australia. The documentary analysis from which this article stems also found that while Indigenous young people are represented as belonging to communities, non-Indigenous young people are not – at least, not beyond their ‘community of care’. As such, this article raises concerns about the disproportionate responsibilisation of Indigenous young people, families and communities.