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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/policy/youth-justice-family-group-conference-convening-the-conference/
Printed: 18/07/2024
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Last updated: 28/08/2023

Youth justice family group conference – convening the conference

When convening family group conferences, we support tamariki, rangatahi, their whānau or family, and victims of offending through a restorative justice process to uphold the mana of all involved.

When this policy applies

This policy applies to:

  • youth justice coordinators who are required to convene a family group conference regarding a tamaiti or rangatahi who has offended or is alleged to have offended, following:
    • a direction from the Youth Court or Family Court, or
    • a referral from the Police or another enforcement agency
  • social workers allocated to support te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family through the family group conference process.

Our practice framework, Te Toka Tūmoana, Va'aifetū, Signs of Safety and the family group conferencing practice standards must inform family group conference practice.

Practice framework

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

Working with Pacific peoples: Va'aifetū

Family group conferencing practice standards

Principles that guide a youth justice family group conference process

The youth justice coordinator is responsible for ensuring the youth justice family group conference:

  • recognises that mana tamaiti and the oranga (wellbeing) of te tamaiti or rangatahi is at the centre of decision-making
  • recognises and addresses the oranga needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi and the underlying causes of the offending or alleged offending
  • sees te tamaiti or rangatahi in the context of their whakapapa and takes a holistic approach to addressing the offending or alleged offending
  • encourages te tamaiti or rangatahi to accept responsibility for the offending (if they admit the offending or it has been proven)
  • provides support and assistance to whānau or family to strengthen their ability to support their tamaiti or rangatahi and prevent future offending
  • considers the rights, interests and views of victims
  • considers how the alleged offending can be dealt with outside of court.

When the family group conference is being convened on the grounds of section 14(1)(e) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, the welfare and interests of the child are the 'first and paramount' consideration rather than the 4 equal and primary youth justice principles.
Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Delaying the holding of the family group conference

If the youth justice coordinator decides there are special reasons for holding the family group conference outside statutory timeframes, the 'special reason' must be considered against the:

  • impact of delaying the conference
  • legal requirement of adhering to timeframes.

Any delay must be as short as possible so there can be resolution as quickly as possible. If every invited participant is contacted and informed of the change, it is allowable to change the date.

If it is necessary to delay holding the family group conference, the decision must be made and implemented within the convening timeframe. Section 249(6) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 must not be used to change the holding date once the family group conference has been convened.

If special reasons become apparent after the family group conference has been convened, it must be held as arranged. If necessary, the family group conference can be adjourned to enable time to address the special reason (for example, a key person being unable to attend, or information required by the conference being delayed and not available in time).

If the decision to delay is likely to affect court timeframes, the court registrar, te tamaiti or rangatahi, their advocate and the Police must be advised in writing. The reasons for the delay must be recorded in CYRAS, with an expected holding date.

Resourcing the family group conference

Lack of finances must not prevent whānau or family and victims from attending family group conferences. The youth justice coordinator must:

  • discuss with whānau or family whether assistance is needed
  • inform eligible victims of the payment available to assist with costs associated with preparing for and attending the family group conference.

Staff resource: Reimbursement claimant form for youth justice family group conferences | Te Pae

Cost must not prevent us from working in partnership with whānau or family when they make requests related to convening and holding the family group conference, such as the use of venues outside Oranga Tamariki.

To encourage tamariki, rangatahi, their whānau or family and victims to participate in the convening process and attend the conference, we must consider and consult with them about whether additional resource is required to meet their language and cultural needs. This may include the use of an interpreter or a cultural leader.

Convening costs not met by the convening budget must be negotiated with the youth justice manager.

If a potential service or programme to support te tamaiti or rangatahi is identified before the family group conference, the youth justice coordinator must:

  • assess whether whānau or family or community funding is available
  • discuss significant funding requests with their manager first.