4 Aug 2014

Call for CYF family conferences review

1:58 pm on 4 August 2014

A youth lawyer is calling for a review of family conferences run by Child, Youth and Family (CYF), in which young offenders meet their victims.

An independent report has criticised the conferences as overly bureaucratic and having significant shortcomings.

The conferences are meant to involve a number of people, including the young offender, their family members and the victim of the crime they've committed.

But a 2012 report, obtained by Radio New Zealand, said the meetings were organised to the convenience of CYF staff, and there was a lack of time and resources.

Youth lawyer Jeremy Sutton told Nine to Noon they were not always working.

"What we're seeing is for some people, they are overloaded with family group conferences," he said.

"It doesn't work if the young person is coming back for their sixth or seventh family group conference, and the attendance of family at the conference, and of the victim, it just goes down hugely. So I think there needs to be a review."

CYF chief social worker Paul Nixon said a huge amount had occurred since the report was published, including creating new practice standards and guidance for co-ordinators and producing a DVD to help children participate in the conferences.

As well, more conferences are now held outside office hours, to accommodate both families and victims who worked, he said.