The New Zealand Youth Justice System
The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 revolutionised New Zealand youth justice practices. It established an innovative set of principles and procedures to govern how to objective of the legislation is ‘to promote the wellbeing of children, young persons, and their families and family groups’. The Act seeks to empower families and communities, rather than professionals, in deciding the best measures to respond to offending behaviour in children and young people.
The Family Group Conference
The primary mechanism to make young people accountable for their offending is the family group conference (The FGC). This restorative justice process is designed to gather together the offender, the victim and the family/whanau, hapu and iwi of the offender. Success of an FGC is measured by three questions. Is it restorative? Does it reduce crime? Is it just?
In other words- does it allow the whanau to put the offending right for the victim? Does it put in place measures to stop the offender from reoffending? Has the young offender been keep out of the adult youth justice system?
On these three measures the New Zealand system does OK. Victims that attend report that they are satisfied with the process, offending is reduced, and young offenders are mostly treated justly.
Challenge 2000 youth justice
Challenge 2000 provides support for young people and their families going through the youth justice and family group conference system. We provide three programmes under youth justice.
Intensive Supported Bail for High Risk Young Offenders
Challenge 2000 youth workers provide a wrap around support programme for young people who would have otherwise gone into a secure youth residence. It is our role to help them and their families put in place a plan that supports the young people to not breach their bail condition or reoffend.
Court Supervised Mentoring with an Activity Based Camp Programme.
Challenge 2000 youth workers provide one on one mentoring for up to six months which includes an activity based camp of up to 10 days. The focus is on addressing the causes of their offending. Young people join this programme as part of their FGC plan.
Mentoring for Young People in the Youth Justice System.
Challenge 2000 youth workers provide individualised and intensive support to these young people. This includes positive guidance, encouragement, opportunity and the challenge to meet their goals and aspirations. This support may be in place for up to 12 months.