Jesuit Social Services contributed to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s (VLRC) consultation on Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences.

In general, Jesuit Social Services advocates a restorative approach by the justice system. In the context of sexual offending and sexual offences, we emphasise the need to ensure that restorative approaches are appropriate – for example, to the nature of the offence and the needs of the victim. A continuum of responses is critical, including preventative programs and targeted post-sentence/post-prison support services, as well as carefully implemented restorative justice programs.

Our submission emphasises several factors that should be considered when dealing with sexual offences by different cohorts in the context of any proposed restorative justice response, such as group conferencing. It also emphasises that careful assessment is required to determine the appropriateness of any particular response in each individual sexual offence case.

Our submission outlines a range of programs and projects relevant to preventing and addressing sexual offending in which our organisation is engaged through service delivery and program research and development.

Our submission makes several recommendations for the trialling/establishment or expansion of several of these programs.