The Unit offers two mediation-based services, a reparative pre-sentence mediation service, and a post-sentence protective conditions process, as well as the Victim Notification Register to keep victims informed of an offender’s progress through the criminal justice system.
Reparative pre-sentence mediation is a voluntary process for both offenders and victims and can be initiated by either party, or by a court, once a plea of guilty has been entered.
The Unit’s protective conditions process occurs post-sentence but only when an offender is or will be subject to a supervised order after release from prison, or is serving a supervised community-based sentence, such as an Intensive Supervision Order (ISO), or a Community Based Order (CBO).
The Unit can also advise victims about an offender's sentence, movement or release from custody through the Victim Notification Register (VNR). Victims can apply to go on the VNR if they are the victim of the current offence, have a current FVRO or have been the victim of previous domestic violence offences.
Reparative mediationShow more
Reparative victim-offender mediation is based upon principles of restorative justice and is voluntary for all parties. Following conviction reparative mediation can be initiated by a victim or an offender, or by a court. The mediation process occurs post-conviction, but pre-sentence.
Victims who choose to engage in reparative mediation can communicate with an offender either face-to-face, or indirectly, through shuttle mediation. Victims convey their views and concerns to the offender, who, wherever possible, is then expected to make amends with them for any harm caused by the offence.
All face-to-face mediation meetings and any communication through ‘shuttle mediation’ will be actively managed and supervised by a Mediation Officer from the VMU. As appropriate, a victim’s privacy is maintained and respected.
Reparative mediation usually involves an offender offering an apology and explanation to a victim for what happened and (where appropriate) financial compensation to restore the victim’s losses. It also gives victims a chance to question and be heard by an offender, and for their views to be considered by the sentencing court - which may take the outcome of a mediation process into account at sentence.
Information for Lawyers
A potential benefit for your client
Mediation provides an offender with an opportunity to be seen by the court as accountable for their actions, while also providing assistance and compensation to victims. Offenders can offer an apology and explanation for the offence and where appropriate make amends by way of compensation.
Whether face-to-face or indirect, mediation can typically involve:
- an apology – verbal or written
- an explanation for the offence
- discussion of background and/or ongoing issues
- the return of property and/or monetary compensation
- payment of the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses.
Mediation officers from the Victim-offender Mediation Unit (VMU) are available in all Perth metropolitan and some regional Magistrate Courts. Lawyers can contact the mediation officer directly, or via court welfare or security.
The mediation officer will make a preliminary assessment about the suitability of the client and the matters for mediation. If the offender is deemed suitable for mediation, a remand period of four to eight weeks will be sought to enable the mediation process.
If a mediation officer cannot be contacted, lawyers can still request the presiding magistrate make a mediation referral. If this occurs, the lawyer must also ask that any protective bail conditions be changed to allow mediation to proceed. This can usually be done by requesting the words “except for purposes of court-based mediation as directed by the mediation officer” be added to the existing protective bail conditions.
Who can participate?
Victims of crime may initiate a request for mediation where they know an offender has been convicted by the court but has yet to be sentenced.
Offenders who have entered a plea of guilty or in some circumstances, who have been found guilty.
Lawyers can initiate a mediation referral by requesting the magistrate to make such a referral for their client. The court may also suggest/direct a referral for mediation, should the presiding magistrate deem the matter as suitable.
A Community Corrections Officer (CCO) or Youth Justice Officer (YJO) may also initiate a reparative mediation referral, as part of preparing a pre-sentence report.
The benefits of mediation
Mediation provides an opportunity for victims to hold offenders accountable for their crime. Victims are able to inform the offender about the impact the offence has had on them, as well as raising any issues about the offender’s motivation or rationale that may concern them. More importantly, it is one of the few opportunities victims have to be directly involved in criminal justice proceedings. The Victim-offender Mediation Unit also informs victims of other options available to them, such as preparing victim impact statements and accessing the Victim Support Service.
The immediate benefit to offenders is that the mediation process may be taken into account by the sentencing magistrate, regardless of whether mediation has been successful or not. Magistrates will often cite a successful mediation outcome not just for reflection in sentencing but also to offer encouragement to the offender to adopt more law-abiding behaviours in future.
The wider and longer term benefit of mediation to offenders and the community is that they have an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the broader impact of their offending behaviours with an aim to reducing recidivism.
Protective conditions processShow more
This process enables victims the opportunity to relay to the relevant authorities any concerns they may have about future contact with the offender.
Offenders currently serving a sentence for an offence against an identifiable victim are referred to the VMU. VMU makes recommendations about what protective conditions (if any) should be imposed on the offender’s supervised order to protect the victim from unwanted contact. Any conditions imposed will only be in place for the duration of the supervised order.
The parties are interviewed separately, so they will not meet during the above process.
A standard protective condition prohibits an offender having any contact with the victim. This means an offender cannot contact a victim by any means, including:
- Telephone calls and text messages
- Internet, including social media and any messenger services
- Face to face
- Through a third party.
Alternative protective conditions that may be recommended:
- Exclusion zones, such as suburb/town, workplace, local shops
- Additional people to be included, such as family members
- Restricted contact, for example, by telephone only and for a specific purpose.
How are protective conditions imposed?
- A releasing authority imposes them on an offender’s supervised release order on release from prison (adult) or detention (young person)
- A Community Corrections Officer or Youth Justice Officer issues a direction to an offender or young person on a community supervision order.
A victim may also request that no protective conditions be imposed on their behalf. A request can be made to change the imposed conditions at a later date if the parties’ circumstances change.
What happens if protective conditions are breached?
- Alleged breaches should be reported to the VMU, with any available evidence
- The VMU may advise the relevant releasing and supervising authorities
- Those authorities may choose to return an offender to custody if they are on a supervised release order, or to court for those on community supervision orders.
Victim Notification RegisterShow more
Victims of crime may apply to go on the VNR to receive information about the perpetrator of the crime against them, for as long as that person is under the supervision of the Department of Justice- Corrective Services division.
Victims can apply to go on the VNR if:
- they are the victim of the current offence
- they have a current Family Violence Restraining Order
- they have been the victim of previous domestic violence offences
- they are an immediate family member of a deceased victim
- they are the parent or guardian of a child victim.
The offender must be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, either in custody or on a community based order. The service is also available to those victims where the accused is on a Custody Order under the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 and subject to reviews by the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board.
The information may include details about the offender's sentence, any escapes from custody and recapture, impending release dates and the results of any appeals against the sentence.
Victims are notified in writing of any changes to the offender's circumstances, usually within 5 days of that change occurring.
More information and details on whether you are eligible to join this information service can be found in Victim Notification Register (PDF 121KB) .
To register for this service:
- fill in the online application form
- refer to the form in the Victim Notification Register - Application Form (PDF 121KB) and mail or email it to the address shown
- call the registrar on 61 8 9425 2870 or freecall 1800 818 988 (country WA only) for an application form.