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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/interventions/family-group-conferencing/about-family-group-conferencing/
Printed: 20/10/2019
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Last updated: 01/07/2019

About family group conferencing

Family group conferencing is a family/whānau-led process to plan for how to address concerns about tamariki or rangatahi who are in need of care or protection or about offending by tamariki or rangatahi.

What is a family group conference

The family group conference is a structured meeting, prescribed by statute (the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989), where te tamaiti or rangatahi and their family/whānau, professionals and other participants who are entitled to attend come together to:

  • talk about concerns that are held for te tamaiti or rangatahi (or about their offending)
  • develop a plan to address the issues.

Family group conferencing is a process that includes:

  • the extensive and comprehensive preparation of everyone involved, before the conference
  • a family/whānau-led conference to work through concerns, and protective actions that are needed to form a positive and sustainable plan with actions that ensure the safety and wellbeing of te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • where te tamaiti or rangatahi has offended, addressing the interests of any victims and ensuring accountability of te tamaiti or rangatahi for their behaviour
  • support being provided to te tamaiti or rangatahi and their family/whānau after the conference to ensure all aspects of the agreed plan are completed successfully.

There are 2 types of family group conference:

  • Care and protection family group conferences are held when te tamaiti or rangatahi is considered to be in need of care or protection based on 1 or more of the grounds set out in section 14(1) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, except section 14(1)(c). This might mean that te tamaiti or rangatahi is suffering or is likely to suffer serious harm such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, deprivation, ill-treatment or neglect. These are convened and facilitated by care and protection coordinators.
  • Youth justice family group conferences are held when tamariki or rangatahi are alleged to have offended or once the charges have been proven. These are convened and facilitated by youth justice coordinators.

Definition of child or young person in need of care or protection — section 14(1) of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Proceedings not to be instituted against young person unless youth justice coordinator consulted and family group conference held — section 245 of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

How conferences support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga

Our policies, practices and services must have regard to mana tamaiti, whakapapa and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of whānau, hapū and iwi.

Duties of chief executive in relation to Treaty of Waitangi (Tiriti o Waitangi) — section 7AA of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Mana tamaiti (all aspects of the wellbeing of a tamaiti)

Key practices followed by those supporting the family group conference process enhance the mana of both te tamaiti or rangatahi and whānau by:

  • emphasising face-to-face contact with te tamaiti or rangatahi and whānau, particularly when first engaging over our concerns and the need for the conference
  • seeking guidance and support from Kairaranga-a-whānau, where applicable
  • respectfully using hui-a-whānau and whānau hui to support whānau to understand and work through concerns
  • explaining to tamariki and rangatahi their rights and what to do when their rights are impacted
  • keeping te tamaiti or rangatahi and their oranga at the centre of the conference
  • presenting and valuing the power and voice of te tamaiti or rangatahi as concerns are worked through and plans are made.

Whakapapa (identity and belonging) and whanaungatanga (responsibility of all in caring for tamariki)

Family group conferencing practice standards

The family group conferencing practice standards set out the requirements for the Oranga Tamariki roles supporting the process — for both care and protection and youth justice family group conferences.

This guidance is not part of the practice standards. It provides more detailed support on the care and protection family group conference process for coordinators and social workers, including how to work to the practice standards.

Family group conferencing practice standards