When Police refer te tamaiti to a youth justice coordinator as a result of their offending, their needs are generally multiple and complex and there are serious concerns for their oranga (wellbeing). Their offending behaviour has escalated (in number, nature, magnitude) and coordinated support is urgently required.
Family group conferences currently take over 50 days to be held for tamariki who have offended. During this time, it is common for te tamaiti to continue offending until appropriate supports and services have been agreed at a family group conference.
New policy has been introduced that requires a whānau or family meeting to be held within 7 working days for every section 14(1)(e) family group conference referral intake. The meeting will provide an opportunity for whānau or family to come together quickly to consider the initial supports and services that might be required for te tamaiti and their whānau or family to reduce the risk of further offending while the family group conference is being convened.
When a whānau or family meeting should take place
When a youth justice coordinator receives a referral for a family group conference under section 14(1)(e) grounds, they need to ensure that a whānau or family meeting takes place.
This meeting needs to be held within 7 working days of the referral consultation between Police and the youth justice coordinator.
The youth justice coordinator is not responsible for arranging or facilitating the meeting – just for ensuring it takes place. This does not prevent them from arranging and facilitating this meeting if they are the most appropriate person to do so.
Responsibility for the whānau or family meeting
As soon as the referral consultation has been completed between the youth justice coordinator and the Police, the youth justice coordinator and youth justice supervisor decide who is the most appropriate person to arrange the meeting.
The most appropriate person could be the youth justice social worker, the care and protection social worker, the kairaranga ā-whānau, the youth justice coordinator, or any other person deemed appropriate based on their relationship with the whānau or family.
Purpose of the whānau or family meeting
We want to reduce the risk of te tamaiti reoffending before their family group conference has been held so the purpose of the whānau or family meeting is for us to come together early with the whānau or family to consider immediate safety and support needs.
In this meeting we would explore and identify strategies, supports and services to ensure the immediate safety and oranga of te tamaiti and their whānau or family, victims and the general public, and to prevent reoffending behaviour until these can be considered more fully at the family group conference.
When arranging the meeting, we must ensure that the whānau or family understands the purpose of this meeting and that it does not replace the family group conference.
Like with a family group conference, we can provide whānau or family with assistance to attend and participate in the meeting.
Attendees at the whānau or family meeting
The whānau or family meeting will include:
- te tamaiti
- their whānau or family, including significant members of their hapū, iwi or family group
- the youth justice coordinator
- the social worker(s) or supervisor (if the social worker is unable to attend).
The whānau or family meeting could include:
- any support people identified by the whānau or family
- key community or agency support networks by consent of the whānau or family.
With the consent of the whānau or family, the Police may attend the meeting as referrer and information provider.
What a whānau or family meeting should consider
The whānau or family meeting should consider:
- the immediate oranga (wellbeing) and safety needs of te tamaiti and their whānau or family
- what strategies, supports and services will be used to ensure the oranga and safety of te tamaiti and their whānau or family
- the concerns around the alleged offending behaviours, including underlying causes
- what strategies, services and supports will be used to prevent reoffending
- whether there are any other care or protection concerns
- what health and/or education assessments are required and gaining consent for these referrals
- how the oranga and safety of victims and the community will be assured.
The whānau or family meeting must:
- use cultural practices appropriate to the culture of te tamaiti or rangatahi, and their family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group
- ensure the whānau or family are at the centre of the decision-making process
- listen to the views of te tamaiti.
All parties, including the Police, must be informed about the outcome of the meeting before the family group conference.
The person responsible for arranging the meeting records the outcome of the meeting in CYRAS using the casenote title 'Section 14(1)(e) pre-family group conference whānau or family meeting'.
The casenote records any strategies, supports or services that have been confirmed, and includes the details of the people who attended the meeting and their relationship to te tamaiti.