Under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, the Conferencing unit convenes Family Group Conferences to provide an opportunity for a child and their family to come up with their own arrangements to ensure the care of the child. Family Group Conferences can be convened to address the care of the child broadly or to address a specific issue.
 

Participants

The coordinator of the Family Group Conference is responsible for notifying all people entitled to be at the conference of the time and place at which the conference is to be held. The following people are entitled to be at a Family Group Conference:
  • The child;
  • The parents and guardians of the child;
  • Members of the child’s family;
  • Persons who have a close association with the child;
  • A person who is arranged to act as an advocate for the child;
  • Any person authorised by the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection;
  • A person who has examined, assessed, counselled or treated the child; and
  • Any other support person or person who, in the opinion of the coordinator, would be of assistance in their role.

The coordinator must ensure that a suitable person is arranged to act as an advocate for the child at the conference.

Procedure

The coordinator will ensure that information as to the child’s circumstances, and any grounds for suspecting that the child may be at risk is presented to the conference. Family members and the child (if appropriate) then have the chance to discuss this information privately and try to arrive at a plan or solution that they think will address the issues or concerns that have been raised.

If a person who is entitled to attend a Family Group Conference is unable to attend, the coordinator must take reasonable steps to ascertain that person’s views and present them to the conference.

Proceedings of a Family Group Conference are confidential and evidence of any statement made is not admissible as evidence in Court. The written record of decisions is admissible in Court for the purpose of establishing that those decisions were made.

Decisions

Decisions made at a Family Group Conference should, if possible, be made by consensus of all people present at the conference. A decision will only be taken to be valid if the child, their parents and guardians, and the Chief Executive each accept the decision.

The coordinator must ensure that a written record is prepared of all decisions made at a Family Group Conference (valid or not). The coordinator must then cause a copy of the record of decisions to be provided to each person present at the Family Group Conference and to be included as part of the child’s case plan.

A further Family Group Conference may be convened to review the arrangements made at the first conference if required by a valid decision of the first conference, or if two or more members of the child’s family who attended the first conference request a review.

If appropriate arrangements cannot be made for the care of the child at the Family Group Conference an application may be made to the Court for care and protection orders.

Statutory Guidelines

As with Care and Protection applications in the Court, in all Family Group Conferences, the paramount consideration is to ensure that children and young people are protected from harm. In addition, the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 provides the following further considerations in the administration of the Act:

  • The child’s need to be heard and have their needs considered;
  • The child’s need for love and attachment;
  • The child’s need for self-esteem;
  • The child’s need to achieve their full potential;
  • The importance of early intervention;
  • The child’s personal views on the matter;
  • The need to preserve the child’s culture, language and religion; and
  • The need to maintain a nurturing, stable and secure environment for the child.

Family Group Conferences are based on the beliefs that:

  • Families, extended families and kinship networks should be involved in decision making because families know their own capabilities and have strengths they can draw upon;
  • People are often more likely to be committed to decisions that they have been involved in making;
  • Family decision making helps the child remain within their family, community and kinship network wherever possible;
  • A cooperative, rather than adversarial relationship is created between families and agencies when they are included in decision making processes;
  • Family decision making models can be culturally sensitive as the family advises the coordinator about the most appropriate decision making processes within their culture and in this way meetings can be respectful of the family’s values and beliefs.

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Forms, Fees and Rules

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Contact Us

For further information, contact the Youth Court Registry:
 
p: +61 8 8204 0331
f: +61 8 8204 0333
youthcourt@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Location:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
 
Postal Address:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000

Contact Us

For further information, contact the Conferencing Unit:
 
Family Conference Enquires
p: +61 8 8204 0594
f: +61 8 8204 0513
familyconference@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Family Group Conference Enquires
p: +61 8 8204 0594
f: +61 8 8204 0591
careandprotection@courts.sa.gov.au
 
Location:
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
 
Postal Address:
Attn: Conferencing Unit
75 Wright Street
Adelaide, South Australia, 5000
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