Source: (2008) International Journal of Restorative Justice. 4(1):1-24.

The paper begins with an overview of the factors that were most influential in the development of family group conferencing in New Zealand. This is followed by an explanation of the circumstances in which conferences are used with young offenders and a description of the usual procedures adopted. The chapter then critically examines the extent to which the core values of restorative justice are in fact promoted and achieved in the New Zealand approach. Particular attention is given to the values of inclusion, empowerment and restoration of victims, offenders and their families. This paper contends that family group conferences in New Zealand demonstrate the potential for a number of core restorative justice values to be implemented in practice as a positive and encouragingly successful response to youth offending. The most important lesson from the New Zealand example for the successful application of restorative justice for young offenders in other jurisdictions is that clear legislative status is essential. Nevertheless, from a restorative justice standpoint, more needs to be done to move away from an offender-focused approach to prioritise the needs and restoration of victims. Ways have to be found to encourage more victims to attend conferencing and to more fully involve those who do attend in the decision-making process. (excerpt)