Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and Child Protection

This topic sets out how the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme interacts with child protection practice and information sharing under the CYFA.

Document ID number 3210, version 3, 27 September 2018.

Introduction

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (the family violence scheme, or FVISS) is designed to enable safe information sharing between professionals in a timely and effective manner to support effective assessment and management of family violence risk.

As of 27 September 2018, Child Protection is a prescribed information sharing entity under the Family Violence Information Sharing Act 2017. All child protection practitioners and managers have the delegation to carry out these functions. (This includes community based child protection practitioners located within The Orange Door (previously known as support and safety hubs), and workers delegated to represent the child protection program on Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs) who have been prescribed since 26 February 2018).

See List of Information Sharing Entities (ISEs) (docx, 35.94 KB) for prescribed entities under this scheme.

How the scheme relates to child protection practitioners

The family violence scheme is additional to the other legislative arrangements and processes for information sharing and privacy in relation to child protection clients (as provided for under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and the Health Records Act 2001). It does not replace them.

Where information can be shared under the CYFA, child protection practitioners should share as appropriate, and record this in CRIS as usual, irrespective of being prescribed under this scheme.

Child Protection is able to share relevant information with other prescribed professionals to assess and manage the risk of family violence to children and adults, in addition to their existing information sharing capacities. They will be able to request, and respond to requests for, relevant information.

The scheme includes an obligation to respond to requests for information under the scheme from prescribed professionals, and establishes certain information as ‘excluded information’.

The family violence scheme is articulated in the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme Ministerial Guidelines, which are legally binding for all prescribed information sharing entities (ISEs).

Open cases

Child Protection is unlikely to need to request information under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme to gather information in relation to its functions, as this is enabled under the CYFA.

However, if a prescribed ISE has refused to provide information in response to a request under the CYFA, making a formal request under the family violence scheme enlivens the obligation to respond and may be appropriate.

Where a child protection practitioner receives a request under the FVISS in relation to a current client, in most circumstances the requested information will be able to be shared under the CYFA.

However there may be circumstances where the child protection practitioner does not have reasonable grounds to believe that sharing the information is required to carry out their responsibilities under the CYFA.

For example, if the request is for information held by Child Protection in the connection with a current client, but is being sought to assess or manage family violence risk to another child or an adult not connected with a current child protection client, the CYFA may not apply.

The child protection practitioner should consult with their supervisor or team manager if there is doubt about whether the CYFA permits sharing the requested information.

If the requested information cannot be shared under the CYFA, consider whether the request meets the requirements for sharing under the family violence scheme, and determine the appropriate response in consultation with your team manager. See below.

The team manager may seek advice from the Information Exchange Team on 1300 090 979 if required.

If the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme requirements are met, verify that the requester is a prescribed ISE, provide the information in a timely manner, and record the exchange in a case note in CRIS:

  • select the case note type 'Information Sharing Scheme' (when available)
  • use the subject  'Information Sharing Scheme exchange'.record the exchange in a case note, using the subject .

See the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme – Record keeping obligations guide

Closed cases

If the request relates to information held about a closed case, the requester should be advised to make the request in writing by emailing the central Information Exchange Team at info.exchange@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

 

Determining how to share family violence information

Refer to the following decision trees to step through the process of responding to a request for information under the FVISS.

       (or see FVISS decision tree all (pdf, 245.5 KB) .)

Further information on the FVISS is located on the department’s intranet site

For assistance with how to handle specific requests for family violence information, child protection practitioners may contact the Information Exchange Team on 1300 090 979 or by email at info.exchange@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Refusing a request for information

Child Protection may determine that certain information it holds in relation to a child is excluded information because sharing it could be reasonably expected to, for example, prejudice an investigation.

Careful consideration is required before refusing a request from another ISE for information. In consultation with the team manager, advice should be sought from the central information exchange team and legal services.

If Child Protection refuses a request from another information sharing entity to disclose information, the request and why it was refused is to be recorded in the client file as an information sharing request case note type, and the requesting ISE is to be provided with the reasons in writing.

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