Source: (2008) Child Abuse Prevention Issues . Issue 27: 1-20.

This paper provides a comparison of the implementation and use of conferencing in Australian States and Territories, and discusses the implementation of conferencing relative to the original conferencing model developed by New Zealand. While Australian States may not systematically empower families in the same way as New Zealand, this does not mean that the conferencing programs in Australia are not of considerable value. Conferences that are conducted offer families an important chance for reflection, empower families to develop their own plans to various degrees, and have many other benefits. A number of Australian jurisdictions have developed strong conferencing programs in which there is considerable expertise in facilitation. Family group conferences were first legislated for in New Zealand in 1989 and today family group conferences represent a significant innovation in child protection practice. Their success in engaging families and communities in problem-solving seems to be unique. Child protection systems in Australia, as in many other countries, have subsequently introduced conferencing programs. The first trial in family group conferencing was initiated in Victoria in 1992. This paper is based on a report that was prepared for the Australian Center for Child Protection. A workshop sponsored by the Center in 2005 brought together conferencing practitioners from a number of States and Territories to discuss the current use of conferencing in Australia. What emerged was a sense that little information was available about those programs and a fear that the early progress made had stalled. In response, the Australian Center for Child Protection decided to conduct a study that mapped the adoption of conferencing in child protection systems across Australia. This paper provides a synopsis of the project report.(Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).


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