- The basis of each scheme and why it is set up in this manner,
- The philosophy and principles of each scheme,
- The roles of 'gatekeepers' in each scheme, and
- The cultural appropriateness of each scheme
Restorative justice has never been easily defined due to the variety of practices at the various stages of the criminal process. These include diversionary programs from court, programs run in conjunction with court decisions, victim and offender mediation at any stage. Restorative Justice is not restricted to criminal matters; it is also available in civil disputes including welfare, family, and child protection as well as disputes at school or workplaces.
Restorative Justice central concern is placing reparation rather than punishment. In its implementation it has been seen to reduce offending and prison numbers. It does this by seeking personal accountability, in a system that currently promotes individuals to deny responsibility.
Conferencing was introduced into Australia in the early 1990s. Loosely based upon the New Zealand Family Group Conferencing Program the Australian model was originally organised and run by the Police. After some experimentation by various Police Services it was decided in NSW and Victoria, that the Judicial Authorities and Church Body respectively would run the various conferencing programs. This lead to the programs becoming established part of the mainstream juvenile justice processing.
New South Wales
In NSW the first restorative justice program was implemented by the members of the NSW Police in 1991 in Wagga Wagga. The implementation was accordance to the recommendation by the state government following the White Paper on Juvenile Justice; a Community Youth Conferences pilot program was established in 1995 in six sites across the state. These programs were jointly operated by the Police, Department of Juvenile Justice, NSW Children's Court and Community Justice Centre's.