What it is
The appointed youth advocate provides legal advice and support to te tamaiti during the convening and holding of the intention-to-charge family group conference. (The appointment must be completed before the conference is convened.)
The Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 highlights the need to ensure that tamariki have services that:
- promote their rights and best interests
- provide for their participation in decision-making that affects them
- prevent them from continuing to offend.
Due to the serious nature of the offences, only youth advocates who are rated to cover those charges with 10+ years imprisonment (PAL 3) or Jury or Judge-alone trials where any charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison (PAL 4) are able to be appointed under section 248A. To ensure correct and consistent representation for tamariki, Oranga Tamariki uses a list of youth advocates provided by the Ministry of Justice.
Who does it
The youth justice coordinator is responsible for:
- identifying which tamariki are eligible for the services of a youth advocate
- ensuring that information is conveyed to the social worker resource assistant who is responsible for completing the intake
- consulting with the youth advocate once appointed
- ensuring te tamaiti is advised of the name and contact details of their youth advocate and the purpose of their appointment.
The social worker resource assistant is responsible for:
- entering the intake on CYRAS under the intake type of 's247(b) (10 years or more)'
- contacting a youth advocate from the list provided by the Ministry of Justice to check if they are available and willing to accept an appointment
- adding the youth advocate as a participant on CYRAS
- completing a financial request and purchase order through CYRAS for the services of the youth advocate
- sending the appointment letter to the youth justice manager for their approval and signature
- sending the signed appointment letter and a purchase order number to the appointed youth advocate
- providing the appointed youth advocate with the name of te tamaiti
- advising the youth justice coordinator and the referring youth aid officer of the name and contact details of the youth advocate.
The youth justice manager is responsible for:
- approving the appointment of the youth advocate (this responsibility has been delegated by the chief executive to the youth justice manager)
- approving the initial agreed payment to cover 5 hours of work to the youth advocate and any further funding as requested by the youth advocate.
How to do it
1 Consultation between referrer and youth justice coordinator
The youth justice coordinator consults with the person who has made the referral under section 247(b), or with their representative. This is probably a police officer, but may be an enforcement officer from other agencies – for example the Department of Conservation.
Proceedings cannot commence unless an intention-to-charge family group conference is held to consider whether the matter can be dealt with in another way.
The youth justice coordinator checks if one or more of the alleged offences is punishable by imprisonment of 10 years or more.
If this is confirmed, they mark the referral as requiring the appointment of a youth advocate.
2 Appointment of youth advocate
Finding a youth advocate
The social worker resource assistant enters the referral on CYRAS using the referral type of 's247(b) (10 years or more)'. This referral type is used to record all of the offences, even if there are other offences which are not punishable by imprisonment of 10 years or more.
The social worker resource assistant checks if te tamaiti already has a youth advocate appointed for current Youth Court matters, or has had one for previous Youth Court matters. The social worker resource assistant will contact them first, to check their availability and willingness to represent te tamaiti at their intention-to-charge family group conference.
If te tamaiti has no current or previous youth advocate, the social worker resource assistant emails the first youth advocate from the Ministry of Justice list to check their availability and willingness. They work through the list until a youth advocate accepts the appointment.
Setting up the appointment
Once a youth advocate accepts the appointment, the social worker resource assistant completes a financial request payment for up to 5 hours of work (currently $792.25 at $158.45 per hour) under convening costs for the youth advocate’s services against the family group conference record on CYRAS:
- select 'FGC – Youth Advocate'
- select subsite 'ITC Youth Advocate'
- select cost centre 'ITC Youth Advocate'
The social worker resource assistant adds the appointed youth advocate as a participant in the family group conference record before creating the appointment letter.
The social worker resource assistant reminders the appointment letter and financial request to the youth justice manager for approval.
On approval by the youth justice manager, the social worker resource assistant creates a purchase order and sends the youth advocate:
- the letter of appointment
- the purchase order number.
The social worker resource assistant then:
- reminders the name and contact details of the youth advocate to the youth justice coordinator
- sends the name and contact details of the youth advocate to the referring youth aid officer.
3 Meetings between te tamaiti, youth justice coordinator and youth advocate
The youth justice coordinator contacts the youth advocate to discuss arrangements for the intention-to-charge family group conference – this must be either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone conversation.
The youth justice coordinator contacts te tamaiti to arrange a face-to-face meeting. At the meeting, the coordinator:
- gives te tamaiti a copy of the notification letter with the name and contact details of the youth advocate
- ensures that te tamaiti understands the role and purpose of the youth advocate and that they and their parents can contact the advocate themselves.
- checks with te tamaiti if they have or would prefer to hire their own lawyer (at their cost) — if they would, the coordinator advises the youth advocate of the decision by te tamaiti and the youth advocate invoices Oranga Tamariki for any costs already incurred.
The coordinator then convenes the intention-to-charge family group conference and invites the youth advocate to attend.
If the youth advocate’s work with te tamaiti exceeds the allotted 5 hours, then they may request extra hourly payments at S158.45 per hour.