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Printed: 29/11/2022
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Last updated: 27/07/2022

Appointing a youth advocate for an intention-to-charge family group conference – section 248A

Oranga Tamariki must appoint a youth advocate for tamariki and rangatahi referred for an intention-to-charge family group conference if any of their alleged offences could be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of 10 years or more.

Updates made to this guidance

Minor amendments have been made to this guidance to clarify the process of appointing and paying youth advocates for an intention-to-charge family group conference.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice shift

What it is

The appointed youth advocate provides legal advice and support to te tamaiti or rangatahi during the convening and holding of the intention-to-charge family group conference (the appointment must be completed before the conference is convened).

Principles of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

The Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 highlights the need to ensure that tamariki and rangatahi have services that:

  • promote their rights and best interests
  • provide for their participation and the participation of their whānau or family in decision-making
  • hold them accountable for their behaviour
  • prevent them from continuing to offend.

The process

1 Consultation between referrer and youth justice coordinator

Unless te tamaiti or rangatahi has been arrested, before any charges can be laid in the Youth Court an intention-to-charge family group conference must be held. The intention-to-charge family group conference is held to consider whether the charges should be laid in the Youth Court or whether the matter can be dealt with in another way.

Proceedings not to be instituted against young person unless youth justice coordinator consulted and family group conference held – section 245(1)(b) of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

The youth justice coordinator consults with the person who has made the referral under section 247(b) or with their representative. This is usually a police constable, but may be an enforcement officer from other agencies – for example, the Department of Conservation.

If a tamaiti aged 12 to 13 is alleged to have offended, the intention-to-charge family group conference must also consider whether te tamaiti is in need of care or protection on the grounds in section 14(1)(e) and if so, whether the matter should be dealt with under Part 2 of the Oranga Tamariki Act.

Guidance for working with children who have offended

The youth justice coordinator checks if one or more of the alleged offences could be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of 10 years or more. If this is confirmed, they mark the referral as requiring the appointment of a youth advocate and notify the workplace administrator.

2 Appointment of youth advocate

The youth justice coordinator or workplace administrator checks with te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family if they want to engage their own lawyer at their own cost or if they want us to appoint one for them.

If they want us to appoint one for them, we check if te tamaiti or rangatahi has active matters before the Youth Court and if they have any views about who they want to represent them.

Appointment where there are no active matters before the Youth Court

Where te tamaiti or rangatahi does not have active charges in the Youth Court, the workplace administrator checks if te tamaiti or rangatahi has had a youth advocate appointed for previous Youth Court matters. If they have, we check with te tamaiti or rangatahi if they want their previous youth advocate appointed again. If they do, the workplace administrator contacts the youth advocate to check their availability and willingness to represent te tamaiti or rangatahi at their intention-to-charge family group conference.

If te tamaiti or rangatahi has no current or previous youth advocate, Oranga Tamariki appoints a youth advocate with the appropriate Criminal Provider Approval Level (PAL rating) 3 or 4. Oranga Tamariki uses a list of approved youth advocates provided by the Ministry of Justice. When possible, we take into account any views expressed by te tamaiti or rangatahi about who they want to represent them.

The workplace administrator contacts the youth advocate from the Ministry of Justice list to check their availability and willingness to represent te tamaiti or rangatahi. They work through the list until a youth advocate accepts the appointment.

Appointment where there are active matters before the Youth Court

Where te tamaiti or rangatahi has active Youth Court matters and an intention-to-charge family group conference referral is made, we can appoint the same youth advocate regardless of their PAL rating.

CYRAS recording

The workplace administrator 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 that are not punishable by imprisonment of 10 years or more.

Once a youth advocate accepts the appointment, the workplace administrator adds the appointed youth advocate as a participant in the family group conference record and creates an appointment letter.

Confirmation of appointment as youth advocate (section 248(A)) – template (DOCX 49 KB)

The workplace administrator completes a financial request payment for up to 5 hours of work as per the rate specified in regulation 6 of the Oranga Tamariki (Youth Advocates) Regulations 2020. This is recorded 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 workplace administrator reminders the appointment letter and financial request to the youth justice manager for approval and signing.

On approval by the youth justice manager, the workplace administrator creates a purchase order and sends the youth advocate:

  • the signed letter of appointment
  • the purchase order number.

The workplace administrator 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 (or other enforcement officer).

3 Consultation between youth justice coordinator and te tamaiti or rangatahi and the youth advocate

The youth justice coordinator contacts te tamaiti or rangatahi to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them and their whānau or family. At the meeting, the coordinator:

  • gives te tamaiti or rangatahi a copy of the notification letter with the name and contact details of the youth advocate
  • explains the role and purpose of the youth advocate
  • ensures te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family are able to contact the youth advocate themselves.

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 coordinator then convenes the intention-to-charge family group conference and invites the youth advocate to attend.

4 When the youth advocate requests an extension or travel expenses

If a youth advocate is to work beyond the extent of the initial 5 hours, prior approval must be sought by the youth advocate from the youth justice manager in writing. It is at the discretion of the youth justice manager to establish whether an extension of work is reasonable.

The hourly rate does not include disbursements for travel. This may be charged as an additional cost at the rate set out in regulation 6 of the Oranga Tamariki (Youth Advocates) Regulations 2020. Invoicing should identify these disbursements and proof may be requested of their expenditure.

Oranga Tamariki (Youth Advocates) Regulations 2020

The same cost centre 'ITC Youth Advocate' is used to pay for these costs.