Information sharing with the Magistrates' Court and the Children's Court

Follow this procedure when:

  • you receive a request from the department’s Information Sharing Unit to provide information to the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court relevant to your duties under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005; or
  • seeking information from the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court relevant to the assessment of the safety or risk to a child or family member under Part 5A of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008  

Document ID number 1230, version 1, 3 June 2019.

Introduction

This procedure describes processes established in the Information sharing protocol - DHHS, Magistrate's Court and Children's Court (pdf, 628.88 KB) . The procedure should be read in conjunction with the protocol. See below for further information about the protocol.

Protocol between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Magistrates’ Court and the Children’s Court

The Protocol, agreed in May 2019, was established to respond to recommendation 28 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Consistent with the intent of the recommendation for improved information sharing between child protection and the Courts, the protocol sets out the process for each party to request and receive information for the purpose of assessing risk to a child when:

  • an application is made for a new or amended family violence order or a family violence order under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 in the Magistrates’ Court or Children’s Court;   
  • an application is made for an order under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in the Magistrates’ Court; or
  • DHHS are investigating or have filed a protection application under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Information requests made by the Magistrates’ Court and the Children’s Court

The department’s Information Sharing Unit, based at central office, is responsible for triaging information requests, responding to urgent requests and managing requests relating to closed cases, on behalf of the child protection program. Where the Information Sharing Unit receives an information request relating to an open case or a case that was closed within the past month, the request will be referred to the allocated child protection practitioner and team manager. 

Case practitioner tasks

  • Read the advice provided by the Information Sharing Unit upon referral of an information request from the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court. This will indicate whether the Information Sharing Unit has already provided information to the Court in response to an urgent request.

Where the Magistrates' Court or the Children's Court require information within two business hours, the Information Sharing Unit (ISU) will complete the template Response to information sharing request: Part A and attach this form to the child's CRIS record. If the Court requests more detailed information, following the completion of a two hour request, the ISU will refer the request to the allocated child protection practitioner or team manager. In these circumstances you will only be required to complete the more detailed Response to information sharing request: Part B.

  • Complete the template(s) within five business days of the date the request was sent by the Court.  These templates set out the information being requested. Information requested in Part A of the template is primarily available from the 360 degree view page on CRIS and is intended to be able to be gathered quickly in response to an urgent request. Part B of the template requires more detailed information.
  • Use the fields in the template(s) to determine what information to provide. Information should be clear, informative, brief and related to the information sought by the Court as outlined in the request form.
  • Do not share information that:
    • may identify a reporter
    • may identify a person who has given information in confidence to a protective intervener over the course of an investigation
    • may reveal an undisclosed address.
  • Refer to Information sharing between DHHS and the Magistrates’ Court and the Children’s Court information sheet for further details about what information can be shared.
  • Review your proposed response to:
    • clarify all information requested by the Court has been provided;
    • all areas of the template, that are applicable to the child’s circumstances and relevant to the information request, have been completed; and
    • that reporter details or undisclosed addresses have not been included.
  • Seek your team manager’s endorsement to provide the information to the Information Sharing Unit.
  • Email the completed template and any additional information to the Information Sharing Unit, within five business days of the original request, at magistrates.informationsharing@dhhs.vic.gov.au.
  • Record the information request and material send to the Information Sharing Unit on the child’s CRIS file as a case note with the subject heading ‘Magistrates’ Court/Children’s Court information sharing request.”

Seeking information from the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court

The protocol enables child protection to request and receive information related to a family violence risk assessment or protection purpose from the Magistrates’ Court or the Children’s Court. Child protection can request, and the Children’s Court and the Magistrates’ Court are able to share information with child protection, for a family violence protection or assessment purpose under section 144A of the Family Violence Protection Act. Refer to Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and Child Protection for further information.

Case practitioner tasks

The Court will consider the legislative basis for the information sharing request prior to completing the response and will endeavour to provide the information within the timeframe noted on the request.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide guidance and support as required.

Team manager / practice leader tasks

  • Confirm responses to requests for information made by the Courts are of sufficient detail and quality.
  • Endorse information to be sent to the Information Sharing Unit.
  • Provide guidance and support as required.
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