Program trials justice options

A voluntary mediation program that has the potential to bring victims of sexual assault face to face with offenders could be used by a western health organisation.

Restorative justice, described as a “soft option” by critics, will be trialled by the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault from September.

Its western suburbs equivalent, the Western Region Centre Against Sexual Assault, will be interested in the trial’s results. WestCASA chief executive Jane Vanderstoel said the program could be “a great tool”, providing a way for healing “that our legal system rarely offers”.

“It’s an option,” she said. “ But you have to be careful to whom you offer it.

“Restorative justice can be another approach or tool to use to provide recovery and healing for victims of sexual assault.”

The practice rarely puts a victim and offender in a room together, however.

“The process might occur between a daughter and a mother whose response may have been less than supportive in the first instance,” Ms Vanderstoel said.

“It might be used in having an organisation acknowledge the gaps in its processes that provided opportunities for people to be sexually assaulted by an employee.” She said victims were often disappointed with or re-traumatised by legal and court processes. “Like many CASAs, we have taken, or will undertake training in this method,” she said.


Ben Cameron