Iwi chairs work on new framework aimed at reducing youth offending
A Law Foundation-backed project is helping the National Iwi Chairs Forum develop a new basis for interacting with the state to achieve better outcomes for young Māori offenders.
The “engagement framework” will be developed by iwi, with assistance from Judge Carolyn Henwood and Jennifer George of the Henwood Trust.
Judge Henwood says the support by iwi chairs to develop the framework shows their strong desire to reduce the high numbers of young Māori in the justice system.
“I believe that only Māori can change the landscape by acting to stop the flow of their children into state care, whether it is care and protection or prisons. This is about iwi chairs taking on their own strategy,” she says.
The project follows the Henwood Trust’s 2014 publication, “New Zealand’s Gift to the World – The Youth Justice Family Group Conference” (also funded by the Law Foundation), which found that the family group conference system was failing young Māori, who make up more than 60% of Youth Court convictions. The study found that while family group conferences were the right model for Māori, engagement with whanau, iwi and hapu had fallen away.
The latest project delivers on the book’s recommendation for iwi to provide greater leadership and resolve to work with the state to implement the family group conference system as envisaged.
The framework will propose a way for lawyers, the judicial liaison group, Police, Corrections and CYF to relate to iwi when a young person comes to notice for offending behaviour.
Judge Henwood says when the framework is finished in September we will know what the new engagement system will look like. The next stage will be to go around each tribe to work out the detail.
“This is about iwi leading the way and engaging with the state on better outcomes for Māori youth. It is their challenge. We are just helping where we can with the legwork and the thinking. I hope that it will come up with a few solid things that can really make a difference,” she says.
The Law Foundation is very happy to support this collaborative initiative and its aspirational goals with funding.
Link to August 2016 LawTalk column by NZLF Director Lynda Hagen for the full article about this project.
The Law Foundation is providing $50,000 towards this project