Restorative Justice and Problem Solving Approaches in the Community Justice Model

Elanor Peattie1, Libby Penman2

1 Victoria Legal Aid, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, 241 Wellington Street, Collingwood, Victoria 3066,

2 Victoria Legal Aid, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, 241 Wellington Street, Collingwood, Victoria 3066,

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) is Australia’s only community justice centre and is focussed on developing new and innovative ways to tackle crime, social disorder and  conflict by utilising principles and practices of therapeutic jurisprudence and restorative justice. Throughout the almost 10 years it has been in existence, the NJC has undertaken a problem solving approach to justice in both criminal and civil matters.This often involves voluntary out-of-court meetings organised by the Neighbourhood Justice Officer where the person appearing before the court, their lawyer and relevant support people come together to discuss the client’s court matters and to develop options to tackle the underlying problems the person is experiencing and the reasons that have led them to be appearing before the Court. This problem solving approach has recently widened to include the use of restorative conferences in relation to appropriate non-intimate partner family violence cases involving criminal and intervention order matters In these cases, often the formal legal mechanism of obtaining a Family Violence Intervention Order does not in itself sufficiently deal with the conflict between the parties, and if left unresolved can often lead to an escalation of   conflict and harm.  In appropriate cases, restorative conferences can provide a safe mechanism for the parties involved in the conflict and the relevant police members to discuss the difficulties occurring in the family and what options there are for resolving that conflict, repairing the harmand assisting those affected to obtain the support and assistance they need. So far these conferences have been successful in achieving these aims and in providing an alternative mechanism for resolving conflict that is underpinned by participation and empowerment.



I have been employed at Victoria Legal Aid since 2007 and have been working as the Senior Lawyer for Victoria Legal Aid at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre since 2014. Bachelor of Science and Laws with Honours in Law from University of Tasmania.

Prior to that I worked as a prosecutor at the Commonwealth DPP in Hobart and Perth and at the Office of Public Prosecutions in Perth. I have also worked as a Complaints Solicitor at the Law Institute of Victoria, as a Planning Lawyer in the UK and as a paralegal in the Rockies in Canada. I have a Masters of Human Rights Law from Monash University and a Bachelor of Science and Laws with Honours in Law from the University of Tasmania. I have a keen interest in restorative and therapeutic justice and have written content for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Journal entitled  ‘Restorative Justice in the Australian Criminal Process’.

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