Source: (2009) Plenary presentation at the 12th World Conference of the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Bethlehem, PA.21-23 October 2009.

Family group conferencing (FGC) has been used in New Zealand since 1989. This new way of care and protection support planning was triggered by an accusation of “institutionalised racialism” (Puao te ata tu, 1988, p. 25) by the then Department of Social Welfare towards Maori tikanga (customs and traditions). This historic mind-set denied Maori families their own ways of problem solving and decision making, thereby prolonging the process of colonisation as “institutional decisions were being made for, rather than by, Maori people” (ibid p.18). FGC has begun to be adopted in Germany for non-racist issues in response to the general unwanted side effects of care and protection work. This article examines the hypothesis that what makes FGC necessary is not the issue of racism but a more fundamental phenomenon of administration, law, professionalism and modern government. We will argue that FGC is a legal procedure needed to cure the side effects of a welfare state’s procedures. (excerpt)

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