skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 204828 Find in a Library
Title: Reaching Meaningful Outcomes in Family Conferencing
Author(s): Marni Harding; Stewart Potter
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Document: PDF
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This paper examines what constitutes a "meaningful" outcome for family conferencing in juvenile justice in South Australia.
Abstract: The paper reflects upon the current practice of the Family Conference Team 10 years after its creation and draws together the lessons the team has learned over time about the operation of conferences. The author notes that a "meaningful" experience for an individual can be related to an experience that is comprehensible, understandable, indicative, significant, suggestive, and/or purposeful for that person at that time. The concept of a "meaningful outcome" from a family conference is therefore subjective, since it is based on the perceptions, responses, and reactive behaviors of each individual involved in the dynamics and procedures of a specific conference. For all individuals in a family conference to have a "meaningful" outcome, the Youth Justice Coordinator must have the ability to balance the needs of all conference participants during the conference process. This involves identifying the needs and expectations of all parties, including the juveniles, their families, victims and their supporters, community representatives, and police. The conference itself is designed to balance the needs of all participants in constructing the outcome. The ultimate goal of the conference is to have participants experience the features of restorative justice, which pertains to accountability and positive change for the offender and restoration for the victim and the community. In the South Australian juvenile justice system, family conferencing is considered a diversionary program. A family conference can proceed in the absence of a victim, and the conference decision can be binding without the consent or agreement of a victim who participates in the conference. This paper examines specific practices of family conferences, including the use of apologies, victim compensation, community service, and "other" outcomes. Attention is also given to the handling of conference cases that involve a sex offense. Other topics addressed are the use of a formal caution and the rate of compliance with family conference agreements. This paper advises that the essence of a "meaningful" outcome for a family conference is the integrity of the conference process in implementing the principles and processes of restorative justice. It is only when these principles are applied on behalf of all parties that a "meaningful" outcome is achieved. 11 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile diversion programs
Index Term(s): Corrections effectiveness; Family conferencing; Restorative Justice; South Australia
Note: Paper presented at the "Juvenile Justice: From Lessons of the Past to a Road for the Future" Conference, held in Sydney, Australia, December 1-2, 2003; downloaded March 25, 2004.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.