This presentation questions how service user participation in community based criminal justice settings can contribute to rehabilitative and restorative processes. It presents the findings from a case study investigating the various factors to be considered when developing and implementing consumer participation in community-based criminal justice settings. The Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO), based in Melbourne, Australia, are in the process of introducing consumer participation; this organisation is the case study site. A mixed method approach provided a range of opportunities for participants - staff, volunteers, and a small number of service users - to engage with the research. Thematic analysis identified multi-layered issues need to be considered when implementing consumer participation. Poor individual understanding was noted as a barrier, alongside a limited shared vision of the concept. These were seen to be influenced by practical issues such as high staff turnover and conceptual challenges, notably the existing discourse around offenders. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for further research on consumer participation in the criminal justice setting.

Catherine Flynn
Monash University
Senior Lecturer

Biography: Catherine Flynn is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Monash University. Her core research is at the intersection of criminal justice and social work, having a particular interest in the unintended consequences of criminal justice policy, and the impact of incarceration on children and families.

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