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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/policy/youth-justice-family-group-conference-holding-the-conference/
Printed: 26/04/2024
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Last updated: 22/05/2023

Youth justice family group conference – holding the conference

We support tamariki, rangatahi, whānau, family and victims of offending through a restorative process, in the least intrusive way possible, to uphold the mana of everyone involved.

When this policy applies

This policy applies to:

  • youth justice coordinators who are required to convene and hold a youth justice family group conference regarding a tamaiti or rangatahi who has offended or is alleged to have offended where:
    • this has been directed or referred by the Youth Court or Family Court, or
    • there has been a referral from the Police or another enforcement agency, or
    • the charge is denied, and the court has made an order for the rangatahi to be detained until the charge is determined, or
    • this is otherwise required by the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
  • social workers allocated to support te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family through the youth justice family group conference process.

Our practice models Te Toka Tūmoana and Va'aifetū, and the family group conferencing practice standards must inform family group conferencing practice.

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

Working with Pacific peoples: Va'aifetū

Family group conferencing practice standards

Principles that underpin holding of the 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
  • sees te tamaiti or rangatahi in the context of their whakapapa and takes a holistic approach to addressing the offending
  • encourages te tamaiti or rangatahi to accept responsibility for the offending (if they admit the offending or it has been proven)
  • encourages whānau or family participation to identify their own solutions to responding to the offending
  • 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 offending can be dealt with outside of court.

Recording attendees

The youth justice coordinator must record all those who attend. Any consulted and invited people (including victims) who do not attend, and who provide a response to decline attending, can be included in the record plan.

Reparation

The youth justice coordinator must ensure that reparation is raised and discussed at the family group conference. It is an important part of 'putting things right'. The youth justice family group conference must consider the interests of the victims.

Youth justice reparation accord and template (PDF 183 KB)

Social work responsibilities

When a social worker completes an assessment, they must attend the youth justice family group conference as an information giver to present the findings of their assessment. The social worker must:

  • ensure any information they present is shared in a way that participants understand
  • ensure their assessment identifies oranga (wellbeing) needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family
  • agree to the plan unless they consider the plan does not address the concerns or oranga needs they identified for te tamaiti or rangatahi as part of their assessment.

Considering the parenting, education, mentoring, alcohol, drug and cultural needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their parents, guardians or carers

The youth justice coordinator must ensure the family group conference considers the:

  • assessed oranga (wellbeing) needs of te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family
  • needs and strengths of te tamaiti or rangatahi, including their health, education or employment, and culture.

The youth justice coordinator must invite the conference to share and discuss their proposed solutions for addressing these needs and strengths. The youth justice coordinator must ensure the conference is provided with information about programmes and supports available to te tamaiti or rangatahi and their whānau or family that relate to the strengths and needs the conference has identified.

The youth justice coordinator must note the discussions and decisions made about the programmes and supports.

Practice standard guidance: Whakamana te tamaiti – practice empowering tamariki Māori

Supervision with residence orders

The youth justice coordinator must ensure, when a supervision with residence order is being considered for a rangatahi, that the participants of the conference consider all community-based options, including supervision with activity.

If there is potential for te tamaiti or rangatahi to be placed outside their usual home

A social worker must be appointed if there is potential for te tamaiti or rangatahi to be placed outside their usual home.

The youth justice coordinator must ensure participants are informed about the Oranga Tamariki caregiver approval process before whānau or family time. Participants must be given time to consider:

  • who can provide a safe, stable, loving home for te tamaiti or rangatahi within their family, whānau, hapū, iwi or family group
  • what supports te tamaiti or rangatahi and the people providing them with the new home might need
  • how connections to family, whānau, hapū, iwi, marae and community will be maintained and how we can support them (whakawhanaungatanga).

If the youth justice family group conference decides that te tamaiti or rangatahi will remain or be placed in an out-of-home care arrangement, the youth justice coordinator must consider whether they can agree to that care arrangement if a caregiver assessment cannot or will not be carried out. This includes when te tamaiti or rangatahi has been bailed to an out-of-home care arrangement before the family group conference being held and it is agreed to continue the care arrangement.

Policy: Caregiver and adoptive applicant assessment and approval

Family group conferencing practice standards

Recording intention-to-charge and court-directed matters

The youth justice coordinator must ensure the actions for youth justice family group conferences that considered both intention-to-charge offences and offences filed in the Youth Court are recorded separately (not one record and plan). A Youth Court judge is not entitled to consider decisions, recommendations and plans from youth justice family group conferences that have considered offences not filed in court.

Closing the youth justice family group conference

The youth justice coordinator must ensure:

  • the tikanga or cultural protocols followed by the whānau or family and the victim are considered and acknowledged when closing the youth justice family group conference
  • when strong emotions are expressed and not resolved during the youth justice family group conference, they discuss a plan for how the attendees can keep themselves physically and emotionally safe.

If a social worker is to be appointed after the youth justice family group conference, the youth justice coordinator must inform the whānau or family:

  • what the social worker’s role is
  • when to expect contact from their social worker.

Distributing the plan

The youth justice coordinator must:

  • let participants know the process for receiving a copy of the plan
  • ensure the plan is distributed to people entitled to receive a copy, no later than 5 working days after the family group conference – they must know what is expected of them and others in the plan
  • ensure people directly affected by decisions receive a copy of the plan.

The following people are entitled to receive a copy of the plan (section 265 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989) – they may not be entitled members or have been present at the youth justice family group conference:

  • te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • parents, guardians, family, whānau or people who have the care of te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • lawyer and/or lay advocate representing te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • representative of the enforcement agency
  • victim
  • people directly affected by the plan
  • iwi social service or cultural social service (if involved or appropriate)
  • Youth Court and Family Court (if involved).