Shane's cover image
Shane

Shane DRUMGOLD

Year of Award: 2003 Award State: Australian Capital Territory Legal > Penal And Parole
To study restorative justice programs for indigenous offenders - USA, Canada, New Zealand
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Shane Drumgold from the ACT is a Prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In 2003 he gained a Churchill Fellowship to study restorative justice programs for Indigenous offenders. He travelled to the United States, Canada and New Zealand where he discovered that: ‘Peacemaking and other restorative justice initiatives presents an alternative approach to the rehabilitation of offenders fundamentally different from that practised in Australia, and capable of far better results than those currently being achieved here.’

He found that great results emerge from the broader community being involved in the criminal justice system. In Australia, he believes, they are an untapped resource. Shane believes that a restorative justice Trust or some such organisation is essential to coordinate restorative justice initiatives and to ensure that they complement each other.

He writes in his report: 'Changing the direction of a life fundamentally requires ceasing one particular type of existence. Essential to this is the availability of provisions to replace this. All restorative programs require dedicated support structures in employment, life skills and education … to allow offenders to build an alternative way of life.

The best programs, he concludes, ‘are those involving out-sourced diversion, particularly those supported by extensive social services.’ Although they take some effort to set up, the countries that have done this have benefited from outstandingly positive results.

After Shane’s return in 2004, the ACT introduced a Restorative Justice Unit, supported by the Restorative Justice ACT 2004. He sat on the inaugural steering committee, and for the first few years was the DPP Restorative Justice referral officer, after which he trained other staff in this role. Shane was also on the steering committee and was the inaugural prosecutor for the Ngambri Indigenous Circle Court in the ACT.

In 2006, three years after his Fellowship, he worked in the Solomon Islands as a public defender. He wrote to me about this: ‘I saw a great deal of cultural restorative justice (or reconciliation ceremonies) first hand for offences from murder down, and my Churchill study was invaluable in giving me the ability to understand and engage in the process.

Even though Shane Drumgold is now Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and does not have the time to engage in restorative justice in the hands-on way he used to, ‘the knowledge I gained during my Churchill Fellowship has never left me … and I remain committed to looking for alternative ways to rehabilitate offenders and improve the quality of life for victims of crime – and I still see restorative justice as the best option for doing both.’

Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

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