An overview of our approach: our underpinning philosophy, theories and principles that influence our youth justice interventions in order to achieve our desired outcomes.
The justice and accountability focused perspective responds to the principle of holding young people to account for their offending, recognising that youth justice is concerned with the rights and needs of a wide group of stakeholders, including but not restricted to the young person themselves.
Restorative justice processes rest at the heart of the justice and accountability perspective, providing a means through which a young person can gain an understanding of the harm caused by their actions, and for reaching agreement on how best to make amends. The involvement of the victim is key to this process.
Being young person focused is all about responding to the young person's specific needs, including their developmental needs, to support longer-term positive outcomes. It's about enhancing wellbeing for young offenders, promoting positive transitions in their lives and providing rehabilitative opportunities that will help them to move positively forward.
The young person focused perspective is also about focusing on the young person's rights. It is supported by the work of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) and its underpinning theme relating to the right of young people to special care and the right to provision, protection and participation.
The family led and culturally responsive perspective reinforces the need to work with family cultures and to support them in their primary role of carers and protectors of their children and young people. The driving principle of family empowerment rests at the heart of the framework and guides practice toward greater family-responsiveness. This strongly supports key practice principles within the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
The need to strengthen families is recognised and also the need to foster practice partnerships that include involving the broader family in processes of decision making for their young people. Being family-led and culturally responsive also requires that we are familiar with the research relating to family engagement and the ways in which families can be brought together to support their young people. Engaging the cultural context of the family and working with social networks is also central to the practice framework.
It has also been suggested that building alliances with communities, including cultural communities are more likely to strengthen good outcomes for young people who offend.
This strand focuses on the importance of strengths and evidence-based practice. The strengths perspective reflects a move away from a focus on deficits toward practice that enhances possibilities. Working with a young person’s strengths to achieve their life goals will be more likely to engage them in positive processes of change. Mobilising the strengths of the broader family to support their young person can demonstrate family cohesion and commitment to change.
At the same time as emphasising centrality of the young person and being responsive to their unique family and cultural environment there is a need for practice to have a strong knowledge base and to be informed by evidence. Building practice on a solid foundation of research evidence about what works with young people is key to supporting non-offending pathways.
We work on the basis that no one perspective is enough when working with young people and their families. It is the weaving together of the perspectives through the phases of our work that makes our practice strong.