Victim Offender Restorative Dialogue
Victim Offender Restorative Dialogue (VORD) is a program which provides the victim of a crime and their offender an opportunity to meet face-to-face, in a safe environment, to explore the aftermath of the crime and understand the impact it has had on all parties.
The restorative dialogue is based on restorative justice principles which aim to redress the harm caused by crime through the voluntary participation of those most impacted – the victim and offender. The emphasis is on offender accountability, repair, safety and prevention of future harm.
The objective is to give the victim a voice in the process. It is an opportunity for the victim to have questions answered by the offender and for the victim’s sense of safety to be restored. Offenders have the opportunity to repair harm and be supported to make personal change.
VORD is a voluntary process in which trained facilitators guide the parties through the dialogue process. The victim often asks the offender questions about the crime and tells the offender how the crime has impacted them physically, emotionally and financially. The offender has the opportunity to take responsibility for the crime, answer the victim’s questions, apologize and develop options with the victim as to how they will be accountable in a way that is meaningful to both the victim and the offender.
Victim Offender Restorative Dialogue: Principles
The Victim Offender Restorative Dialogue process is guided by the following principles.
- Participants will be given information outlining the VORD process and the possible consequences of participation.
- Participation in the VORD process must be based on the free, voluntary and informed consent of the parties.
- Both parties, victim and offender, must participate in the VORD process.
- Referrals to the VORD process can occur at any stage from no charge or pre-charge to post sentence.
- A referring agency must support participation in the VORD process.
- Parties have the right to seek legal advice at any and all stages of the VORD process.
- Consent to participate may be withdrawn by a party at any stage in the VORD process.
- The parties will be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, while recognizing the harm that has been caused.
- The safety and security of the parties must be ensured at all stages of the VORD process.
- Referrals to and conduct of a VORD process must take into account power imbalances, cultural and diversity factors.
- In Agency Referrals the facts must support a criminal charge and prosecution must not be barred at law. Self-referrals by the victim or offender must satisfy one of three conditions: no charge has been laid; the court process has not resulted in a conviction; or there has been a conviction and sentence has been completed.
- The parties must accept as true the essential facts of the crime and the offender must be willing to take responsibility for the crime and harm done to the victim. Admission of responsibility by the offender for the crime is central to the VORD process, and cannot be used as evidence against the offender in any subsequent legal process.
- The content of the VORD process is confidential unless otherwise agreed by the parties, required by law or an actual or potential threat to safety is made by a party in the process.
- The content of the VORD process cannot be used in any subsequent legal process except unless otherwise agreed by the parties, required by law, or an actual or potential threat to safety is made by a party in the process.
- Any agreement reached by the parties must be entered into voluntarily and the terms must be reasonable and proportionate.
- When an agreement is not reached, it will not result in negative sentencing or an institutional consequence for the offender. There should be no more severe a sentence than would otherwise have been imposed on the offender.
Brochure: Victim Offender Restorative Dialogue (PDF 600KB)