Youth Justice

Family group conferences

Youth Justice family group conferences give the child or young person – with their whānau, victims and professionals – a chance to help find solutions when they have offended.

Together, with the family, victims, the Police and other important influencers, we can help the young person take responsibility for their actions and make lasting, positive changes. With everyone’s opinion and expertise accounted for, a thorough plan can be made to help right the wrong and ensure their future wellbeing.

How an FGC works

The Youth Justice family group conference or FGC is arranged by a Youth Justice coordinator. They're there to help everyone get the most out of the meeting and to answer any worries or questions.

Young people start by owning up to what they've done. Together, we then work out the underlying reasons behind their actions. Why did they do it?

We then find practical ways for the young person to make amends for what they've done, like community service or getting a part-time job to help pay towards any damages. We’ll also address any other needs, like anger management or alcohol and drug support. Finally, we set goals for the future – things like life skills, education, employment, team sports and getting them a good mentor.

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"I don't want to be like that when I'm older. I need something better."

Voices of young people

Stages of a Youth Justice family group conference

Getting the facts
The police report will be read out, and if the child or young person agrees, everyone will discuss how they can make things right. If they don’t agree with the report, the FGC will end and the police or the court will decide what to do next.

Time to talk
Everyone will discuss the circumstances of the offence and the impact it has had on the victim and the young person’s family. The victim will then share ideas about how the young person can make things right.

Family time
The family and the child or young person will take timeout to come up with a clear, realistic plan to take back to others at the family group conference.

The plan
The plan is then discussed with the wider group, and if anyone disagrees with it, a judge will put a plan in place. The plan is then legally binding and must be completed. This will rely on whānau and professionals providing on-going support working together, and keeping each other informed about progress and problems. If things veer off track, the Youth Justice coordinator will talk to the family about what they can do to stick to stick more closely to the plan.

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What is a Youth Justice family group conference (FGC)?

Why we have an FGC and why it can help a young person accept responsibility for their actions and move on.

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What to expect

The ins and outs of the FGC process and what to expect.

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Why victims should attend

Why victims are an important part of the process and how it can help them.

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Making a plan

Creating a positive plan with the young person to help make sure they don't re-offend.

Who should attend?

Along with the victim and their support people, everyone who plays an important role in the child or young person’s life, and others who might be able to offer support or services, should attend. This includes family and whānau, Police, the young person's lawyer and social worker, and other professionals such as teachers or health workers. 

A Youth Justice coordinator will facilitate the conference. They’ll be everyone’s main point of contact and support if there are any worries or questions.

How to prepare

Before the conference takes place consider: 

  • Where should it be held?
  • Are there special customs you would like to include?
  • Who in your family could play a lead role?
  • Who could offer your young person continued support?

It’s also important to gather as many family members as possible for the conference to help create a positive change for the young person.

Help us get better

After the conference, we may contact you to ask for feedback. This helps us identify what’s working well and what can be improved. Ultimately, we want to ensure the whole process is a positive experience for everyone involved – especially our rangatahi and the victims.