The FGC Co-ordinator is responsible for organising the FGC, sending out the invitations and, if necessary, running the FGC. He/she talks to whānau and other people or services who may be working with the whānau. If the Family Court has made urgent orders, a lawyer for the children will also have been appointed. The lawyer for the children will be invited to the FGC.
Those that attend the FGC will have the opportunity to talk about their concerns, say what they think including expressing support, and put their ideas forward regarding the plan.
FGC's are usually face to face hui but for those who want to attend but can’t get there, attendance by telephone or video is possible. If there are issues, ask the FGC Co-Ordinator to arrange an alternative way for whānau to attend.
Organising an alternative way to attend or provide information also applies to whānau that the FGC Co-Ordinator might want to exclude because they might be disruptive. The focus will always be on the tamariki but if whānau want the excluded member to attend, there will need to be a discussion with the FGC Co-ordinator. The whānau member may be able to attend by telephone or provide their views in writing.
Whānau, the police, the social worker and lawyer for the tamariki have a right to attend the FGC. In short, the FGC is about encouraging and strengthening whānau, hapū and iwi involvement and decision making.
The FGC is often run by the Oranga Tamariki FGC Co-Ordinator, but if there is someone in the whānau who can run the FGC then it is possible for them to do that. Generally, there will be a time at the beginning of the FGC when the social worker will share the information they have about the tamariki and the reasons why the FGC was organised. Other people at the FGC may also share information including social service organisations, school principal, police, paediatrician, lawyer for the children. After the information has been shared, the whānau will be left on their own to discuss the situation. This is called ‘whānau time’. During whānau time, two questions should be considered:
Are the tamariki in need of
care or protection?
Are the tamariki in need of
If agreement is reached to one or both questions above, then a plan can be made to address the concerns.
Ideally, all those who attend the FGC will agree on the plan, but if not, that’s okay. If the whānau have a plan that is not agreed to or Oranga Tamariki have a plan that is not agreed to then, if there are court proceedings/orders, it is a Family Court Judge who will decide whether the plan is acceptable. Whānau need to present their plan to the judge at court.
If there are no court proceedings/orders, whānau can still follow their plan. Oranga Tamariki will then need to decide whether they apply for court orders or work with the whānau. If they apply for court orders they need to tell the Family Court Judge about the whānau plan and why they don’t agree with it.
The best strategy is to have a whānau hui before the FGC. Talk about the concerns raised by the social worker at the whānau hui and make a plan. Local social service providers should be able to help whānau put a plan together and carry it out. Present your plan at the FGC.
Family Group Conferences (FGC's)
FGC Care and Protection Co-ordinator