Sunday, January 03, 2021

Only one in five victims attends a FGC

From Oranga Tamariki

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

But victim participation rate in Family Group Conferences - the holy grail of youth justice - is very low. Hence, I imagine, the reason OT commissioned Behavioural Insights to study why.

Only about one in five victims physically attends.

The reasons given by interviewed non-attendees are not being able to take time from work and non-compenastion for travel,childcare costs incurred etc. Fear of retribution rates a mention. Also victims were unhappy with reparations or lack of for stolen, damaged or destroyed property. This makes perfect sense.

Another obstruction uncovered was that non-Maori co-ordinators had trouble "understanding te ao Maori, engaging effectively and providing culturally appropriate support to young people, whanau and victims." The implication seems to be a failure on the part of non-Maori (also referred to in the presentation as 'white') a pattern of blame becoming increasingly familiar.

Moving along, the  immediate concern must be the diminished usefulness of FGCs with no participating victim, and the message that non-participation sends to the offender.

According to Andrew Becroft (ex principal Youth Court Judge, now Children's Commissioner):

Most importantly, the FGC provides the opportunity for a face to face encounter with a
victim, which can be very emotional and raw. This is the restorative power of the FGC.

But in eighty percent of cases that potential cannot be realised.