Publication of identifying details

Follow this procedure when the identifying details of a child protection client may be or are published in the media.

Introduction

This procedure covers:

  • media enquiry or exposure about a child protection client
  • release of information to the media in general, including for the purposes of attracting foster carers or to highlight community events
  • potential breaches of s. 534 of the CYFA.

See Missing persons reports for procedures when issuing a missing persons media report about a child protection client.

Procedure – media enquiry or exposure about a child protection client

Case practitioner tasks

  • Alert your team manager of actual or potential media interest in a child protection client or family.
  • Do not provide any information about the case to any media organisation without the approval of the Director Child Protection.
  • Refer any contact from a media organisation to the department's Media Unit (Media Unit: on-call number: 9096 7710  email: media@dhhs.vic.gov.au).
  • Complete an incident report.
  • Provide support to the child, family or carers as required.

Team manager tasks

  • Immediately advise the Director Child Protection through the area manager and child protection operations manager of any information about actual or potential media interest in a child protection client or family. Brief about alerts, safety concerns, or information restrictions recorded in CRIS.
  • Brief the department's Media Unit, in consultation with your manager. The Media Unit will assume responsibility for subsequent contact with the media. (Media Unit: on-call number: 9096 7710  email: media@dhhs.vic.gov.au)
  • Consult with parents about any proposed media action involving their child. Parents must be consulted unless the child is subject to a care by Secretary order or long-term care order.
  • Oversee endorsed actions, including an application seeking permission from the Secretary, or an application to the Children’s Court seeking permission from the President, to publish identifying information if this has been authorised by the Director Child Protection.

Director Child Protection tasks

  • Brief the Office of the Minister for Families and Children as appropriate.

Procedure – release of general information

Director Child Protection tasks

  • Consider any possible breach of ss. 534, 205 and 206 of the CYFA, as well as requirements of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, before endorsing publication of information about child protection clients.  
  • Consult with the Office of Professional Practice, the Assistant Director Child Protection, Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch and Legal Services.
  • Decide whether to release information to the media regarding children who have had involvement in child protection.

Procedure – potential breaches of s. 534

Case practitioner tasks

  • Alert your team manager when you become aware of information being published that may identify a child as subject to proceedings in the Children’s Court or an order of the Children’s Court where permission has not been granted under s. 534. 'Publish' in this context means any action that puts information into the public domain, including radio, television, newspaper, pamphlets, social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) or any other communication vehicle.
  • Complete an incident report.
  • Provide support to the child, family or carers as required.

Team manager tasks

  • Advise the area manager and child protection operations manager of the potential breach of s. 534.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • Consider whether a breach by a media organisation or individual may best be dealt with via education, such as writing to the media outlet or individual alerting them to the potential breach of the CYFA.
  • Determine whether a potential breach of s. 534 of the CYFA should be reported to the police. The matter may be reported to police if the individual refuses to remove the identifying information, or if they continue to publish new information.
  • Consult with Legal Services and, in the case of a potential breach by a media outlet, with the Media Unit, before making a report to police.

Related procedures

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