Entitled to attend
The following people are entitled to be at a care and protection family group conference:
- te tamaiti or rangatahi
- their parents, guardians or the people having the current care of te tamaiti or rangatahi
- members of their family/whānau or family group
- the care and protection coordinator who is convening the conference or another care and protection coordinator acting for them
- people whom the family/whānau or family group invite to attend, which may include other members of hapū or iwi
- the social worker (or a person acting for them who is also a delegate of the chief executive) or police officer (or another constable acting for them) who made the referral under section 18(1) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
- the social worker delegated to attend on behalf of the chief executive at other family group conferences under the Act (not convened under section 18(1))
- the Police, schools or other organisations that are concerned with child wellbeing, if they are the referrer under section 19
- a person appointed by the court if te tamaiti or rangatahi is under guardianship (sometimes called wardship) of the court under the Care of Children Act 2004
- the lawyer or lay advocate representing te tamaiti or rangatahi
- if the conference is convened to consider extended care of te tamaiti or rangatahi, the person who has or is proposed to have their care.
Exclusion from attendance at a care and protection family group conference
The care and protection coordinator has the authority to exclude people from a conference. The coordinator can only exclude te tamaiti or rangatahi or their parents, guardians, caregivers and members of their family, whānau and family group if the coordinator considers that their attendance is not in the interests of te tamaiti or rangatahi or is undesirable for any other reason. However, the coordinator must get their views and ensure they are presented to the conference, for example, through a letter.
Te tamaiti or rangatahi also need not attend if they are unable to understand the proceedings by reason of age or level of maturity.
No other entitled member may be excluded from a care and protection family group conference.
If you are unsure, contact Legal Services about excluding a person or making alternative attendance arrangements.
Hapū and iwi
Generally, whānau is a more immediately related group of people than hapū or iwi, but the concepts may overlap. Whānau members will often also be members of the hapū and iwi of te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 requires that policies and practices have regard to mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whānaungatanga. The social worker and coordinator should identify appropriate opportunities to involve members of hapū and iwi in the family group conference. Members of hapū or iwi are not listed specifically as members entitled to attend a conference but there are opportunities to include them as:
- entitled persons by agreement
- information givers.
Entitled persons by agreement
Te tamaiti or rangatahi or their family/whānau may identify other people they wish to attend the conference as an entitled person by agreement. The care and protection coordinator should consult the family/whānau on whether they agree to the attendance of any other people. This should include consideration of whether family/whānau agree to the attendance of other members of the hapū or iwi of te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Those people can then be included as an entitled member of the family group conference.
People can attend a family group conference as information givers if the coordinator considers they have information and advice that the conference needs to hear to be able to make good decisions and develop positive outcomes.
Information givers could be key professionals involved with te tamaiti or rangatahi — particularly health and education professionals. Members of hapū and iwi might be encouraged if they can provide relevant information, for example, about assistance or how to strengthen connection with hapū or iwi.
Information givers are not entitled people and don't:
- have a right to stay for the whole family group conference — they may only attend for the purpose of conveying any information or advice required by the conference to carry out its functions, but may otherwise attend the conference only with the agreement of the conference.
- vote at the conference and decide on the plan for te tamaiti or rangatahi.