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Diversion of Indigenous offenders

Diversion may occur at the pre arrest, deferred prosecution or sentencing phase of the justice system. This process aims to allow the provision of services to address the underlying causes of the offending, promote cost reduction and time efficiency within the justice system, and expand and improve the options available for criminal justice decision makers.

Pre arrest diversion is generally only undertaken in relation to juvenile offenders in the form of cautions and warnings. Deferred prosecution involves the admission of guilt by the offender, after which they undertake some form of diversionary scheme (treatment, restitution) and are then returned to the attention of the prosecutor who drop the charges. This option is usually only undertaken for first time non-violent offenders. Diversion at sentence involves the offender being referred to a diversionary program for a specified period of time, and at the conclusion of this, they are referred back to the court, at which point they may either have the charges dropped, or receive a reduced penalty for a lesser matter. Diversion is not limited to Indigenous offenders, but is relevant in addressing overrepresentation.

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Diversion for juvenile offenders

Diversion from the formal criminal justice system is considered good practice for the treatment of young offenders, with the intention of minimising the likelihood of future contact with the criminal justice system.

The process of diversion may take multiple forms, including:

  • Verbal and/or written warnings
  • Formal cautions
  • Victim-offender conferencing
  • Family group conferencing
  • Referral to formal and/or informal community programs.

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