Q and A Family violence information sharing
Changes to support information sharing about family violence are due to commence on 1 July 2019. Here’s some Q&As about what’s coming.
Q-Why is information-sharing being changed?
Death reviews have shown missed opportunities to respond to family violence. The new information-sharing provisions aim to address this.
The new law applies to family violence agencies and social services practitioners. Both are defined broadly. Community services receiving government funding to help victims and/or to stop perpetrators of family violence, licensed early childhood services, schools and specified government agencies are included.
Q-What’s the change?
There are some legal requirements. The gist of the changes is that if you’ve got information that could help another agency working with a person impacted by family violence then consider sharing it. It’s not compulsory to share the information but it is compulsory to consider sharing it.
This is important particularly for people working in health-related agencies who often feel conflicted about their duty of confidentiality versus sharing information.
Q–What happens if I share info?
As long as you share information in good faith and are careful you wont be liable. You should check the relevance of the personal information requested or that you’re thinking about disclosing (eg is it relevant to a client’s assessment or plan?)
Q–What if a client doesn’t want to share their info?
The point of the change is that safety rather than consent should drive information sharing.
Best efforts should be made to obtain a person’s consent to sharing their personal information and you should consider their views. But even if consent is withheld, you might decide the information should be shared eg to help with safety planning.
Q–What about a client’s trust?
This is often a big worry. People trust us with information and we want to honour that trust. But the new law means we don’t have to put this above protecting a victim from violence.
We can still build and maintain trust. But it needs to be done from the start. Clients should be informed when welcomed to the service that personal information may be shared if it will help protect a victim of family violence. Transparency should then be maintained throughout the relationship when and if their personal information is shared for family violence reasons.
Q–What does it mean for policies?
We’ve been updating our online policy service for members. Policies that are being updated include those dealing with privacy and planning.
We’ve had a lot of people join us lately, but it’s still a good time to join.
It takes about 8 weeks to get you online. But we’ll put you online with your policies updated. From then on, we regularly review them and keep them up-to-date.
Contact us if you need a hand.