Submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences
The CIJ’s submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission advocates for the use of victim/survivor focused restorative justice processes in response to sexual harm.
Victim/survivors seek a response to the harm they have experienced that allows them to feel that justice has been done. Some have a strong need to tell their story, in a forum where they are believed and supported. Some want to engage directly with the person responsible for the harm, to express how they have been affected, and see the person responsible acknowledge the wrongfulness of their actions. Others want the opportunity to meet with members of their own family, in cases where they were not been believed or supported when they disclosed the harm to family members.
Having a criminal prosecution in response to the harm they have experienced is very important to some victim/survivors, and those who feel this way must be supported and encouraged to pursue this avenue. However, the vast majority of victim/survivors do not report the harm to police. Of the cases that are reported, few result in a conviction of the person responsible. Other options for addressing the harm need to be available to victim/survivors, in addition to the criminal justice system.
The CIJ advocates for restorative justice processes that respond to sexual harm that are focused on the needs of victim/survivors. These processes must be ones in which victim/survivors can exercise agency, and which are responsive to them as individual people. The processes must be delivered in ways that recognise the power dynamics inherent in sexual offences, and that avoid replicating harmful myths and misconceptions about sexual violence.
Read our submission in response to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Issues Paper G Sexual Offences: Restorative and Alternative Justice Models below.