When a 14-year-old boy named Luke broke into Dave Hammond’s house and stole his car, he could have faced a punitive response simply designed to punish a young person for their actions with little consideration of the circumstances that led to their behaviour.
But on this occasion things were different. Dave – who was previously the General Manager of Jesuit Social Services’ Western Sydney programs – and Luke both agreed to participate in a group conference, a process designed to repair harm and restore relationships rather than simply punish bad choices.
“He didn’t pinch the car because he was a nasty kid,” Dave said.
“That doesn’t justify it. But it was in very difficult circumstances.”
Dave and his wife joined Luke and his support person in the Youth Justice Group Conference, which is a facilitated dialogue between people who have offended, those impacted by their actions, and the wider community.
The program aims to divert young people from further or more serious offending.