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Ben’s story

I dropped out of high school and got into a bad situation with a bunch of guys from my suburb. One day we broke into a house and stole a heap of stuff. Then we took off with the car and ended up writing it off.

After we got busted, the police said I could do RJ or go to court. Meeting the people I hurt – Chris and Leigh, was really nerve-wracking because I knew I had done a terrible thing to them. But I also knew it was the right thing to do and it was better than going to court.

Chris and Leigh had heaps of questions. Like why we had robbed them, and why we made such a mess. I told them I didn’t really have the answers, but that I’d been angry and confused at the time and it felt easy to do what my mates were doing. Seeing how upset they were really made me think about what I’d done.

We made an agreement that I would go back to school and do guidance counselling every week to get back on track. I did what I said I would and stopped hanging out with the wrong people.

I’ve just started college and never thought I would get here. I can honestly say that owning my actions and doing RJ has turned my life around.

Chris and Leigh’s story

As soon as we got back home it was clear that something had happened. It was extremely upsetting. It wasn’t just that we’d been robbed, it was the invasion of our space and the senseless destruction. We felt scared that whoever had done it might come back. We were glad when the police called a few weeks later to say they’d arrested the people who did it.

We had a lot of questions. We wanted to know why they targeted us. We wanted to know why they made such a mess of the house and car. It seemed so unnecessary and somehow personal. Some of the items they took would have been of no value to them but for us they were of great sentimental importance.

When we met at the conference it was clear that Ben was anxious and remorseful. His grandfather, Joe, was also very upset about what Ben had done, and the two of them were in tears at one point. We all were.

Ben didn’t have answers to all of our questions, but he assured us that the offence wasn’t personal, and that we weren’t targeted.