Increasing victim and whānau attendance at Youth Justice FGCs

Published: December 14, 2020

Insights and recommendations from a qualitative exploratory study to increase victim and whānau attendance at youth justice family group conferences (FGCs).


Research suggests that justice and recidivism outcomes are better when victims and whānau participate in justice processes. However, in New Zealand, victim and family/whānau attendances at youth justice FGCs are low.

This report from the Behavioural Insights Team presents insights from an exploratory work on barriers to FGC participation for victims and whānau, and suggestions on behavioural science informed approaches to increase victim and whānau attendance at Youth Justice FGCs.

Key findings

The Behavioural Insights Team conducted interviews with 23 participants, including:

  • Victims and their whānau 
  • Whānau of rangatahi involved in offending
  • Youth Justice coordinators including Iwi coordinators
  • Youth Justice site managers
  • Police Youth Aid Officers

The findings showed that there are several barriers to attending FCGs for victims and whānau, including structural barriers such as:

  • Youth Justice coordinators not having the time and resources necessary to prepare victims and whānau
  • Challenges of non-Māori YJ coordinators understanding te ao Māori
  • Victims not being able to take time from work
  • Victims being unhappy with reparations options (or lack thereof)

Other key barriers:

For victims, these included challenges such as not having a key support person, not knowing what to say, poor communication leading to a poor overall understanding of the YJ process, feeling that their presence will not make a difference to the young person's attitude, and feeling unsafe.

For whānau, key barriers included poor experiences at previous FGCs, confusion about the objectives, low trust that processes will be fair to Māori whānau, low hope that the FGC will change the offending behaviour, and not wanting the full whānau to know about what happened.

The report also presents potential approaches that are based on behavioural science, to support the attendance of whānau or rangatahi, and victims in FGCs.