Thirty years of the Family Group Conference: In conversation with Raewyn Nordstrom

Raewyn Nordstrom describes herself as a Creative Native Disruptor. In this podcast she reflects with Deb Stanfield on her work as a Family Group Conference (FGC) Coordinator for Oranga Tamariki, Aotearoa New Zealand’s child protection service – work which began with facilitation of the first FGC to be held in Aotearoa, (and in the world), and ended with her retirement in early 2019.

In this podcast, Raewyn remembers the important development of Pūao-te-Āta-tū and the golden promise of the early days. She recalls a challenge from a kaumatua about the notion of whānau decision making, and how she in turn challenged managers to support ideas brought forward by whānau and families.

Raewyn comments on her experience as wahine Māori in this role and the ‘creative native disrupting’ skills needed to ensure the rights and needs of mokopuna (children) and whānau were met.  Her stories also highlight her focus on providing consistency for whānau and her colleagues over the many social, legislative, policy and management changes of the last three decades.

The following “unfiltered” podcast was recorded in a small re-purposed shed on an old dairy farm situated in the land of Ngāti Maniapoto in the Waikato region of Aotearoa. It begins with a story about the world’s first FGC, held in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) in November 1989 and ends with a beautiful waiata sung by Raewyn and her daughter Taaniko Nordstrom, who kept us company in the shed while we talked.

We hope you enjoy this conversation and invite you to comment.

Image credit: kiwinz

3 replies on “Thirty years of the Family Group Conference: In conversation with Raewyn Nordstrom”

I did enjoy the conversation and her observations, advocacy, aroha and therapeutic relationships and approach. I was at many Family Group conferences in Christchurch from 1989 to 1992, as the DSW psychiatrist (& psychotherapist) consulted by its Senior Social Workers, Maatua Whangai, lawyers. I liaised with GPs, Child & Adolescent colleagues in Health, Family Therapists, School Counsellors. I reported to DSW’s DG.
FGC s started as positive and helpful when ideas and reqests by family received emotional support from staff & funding, but nor later when good requests were not funded, despite positive outcome research.
Dr Robyn Hewland QSM ( retired)

I wish I had listened to this before my first FGC, such good reflections and ideas. I don’t get the chance to sit in FGC’s with the new process but Raewyn has given me some things to think about and utilise in my own practice. Thanks deb.

Kia ora Hanna, so nice to hear from you. Thanks for listening and replying. It’s always good to find someone to inspire your practice, Raewyn has always done that for me. I’m happy you feel the same and enjoyed her wisdom! Ngā mihi, Deb

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