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What is child information sharing?

To help all Victorian children live safe and happy lives, the Victorian Government is improving the way information is shared by certain professionals who work with children and families.

The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) makes it easier for these professionals to see the full picture of the child they work with, helping them to understand what they can share, and how to protect a family's privacy.

  • Many children will need support at some stage in their lives. Getting the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to a child’s wellbeing.

    Anything that impacts a child’s ability to grow, learn, play or rest peacefully is a factor of wellbeing.

    This can include a child’s:

    • physical, psychological, and emotional health
    • accommodation
    • nourishment
    • safe and stable environments
    • access to services
    • protection from the elements
    • access to learning and development resources
    • engagement in supportive relationships
    • participation in activities that enable development

    From the time they’re born, until they turn 18, the Child Information Sharing Reforms help children and their families live safe, healthy lives by getting better support from professionals and organisations that work with children.

    All Victorian children are automatically included from birth.

  • Child Information Sharing enables professionals who support and care for children (such as teachers and nurses) to share their experience and knowledge about a child with each other, to determine how to best offer support to the child and their families.

    It also provides guidelines on how to request, share and document this information, helping them to:

    • understand what they can share
    • see the full picture of the child they work with
    • provide help and support sooner
    • understand how to protect a family’s privacy
  • Taj has just changed schools. His new teacher notices that he’s reluctant to speak up in class, and has trouble completing his schoolwork. By requesting information from Taj's former school, she learns that he has dyslexia, which makes him hesitant to participate in class.

    This an example of information that can be shared through Child Information Sharing, as it allows Taj's teacher to create a lesson plan that supports Taj's learning needs.

What information can be shared?

Any information which supports the wellbeing or safety of children can be shared. This could be information such as professional support that the child is receiving, or insight about family relationships.

When can it be shared?

Authorised organisations and professionals can either request information or decide to share it with other authorised professionals.

Information can only be shared when it will assist in providing services, making plans, or investigating or managing risks to children. It must not endanger anyone, be legally privileged or be excluded under the regulations.

It is an offence to share information when it isn’t justified or needed.

For further details on the conditions which must be met before information can be shared, see Frequently Asked Questions: What do I need to know to decide what can and can't be sharedExternal Link .

How will it be used?

The information must be used in an activity that promotes the wellbeing or safety of a child (or group of children). Examples of these activities include:

  • making sure families don't need to tell their story twice
  • enabling better cooperation between professionals and families
  • identifying issues or risks for children and families sooner
  • involving the right people who can help
  • enabling earlier support and participation in services
  • helping professionals see the full picture and make more informed decisions regarding children

Example

Lisa is a preschool nurse who’s been working with Alice, and her 5 year old daughter, Jasmine, who has a minor heart condition. With Jasmine starting primary school, Lisa talks with Alice, and seeks her views on sharing information about Jasmine’s condition with the nurse of her primary school, in order to ensure that they are aware of her needs. Lisa is aware of Alice's views before sharing the information.

This is an example of when a professional can choose to share information, and who they can share it to.

Who can share information?

Only certain people have authority to share information – not everyone.

With Child Information Sharing, authorised professionals and organisations can share, request and access information about a child. These people are professionals who have an obligation in caring for and protecting children and families, including:

  • education professionals, such as teachers, day care and kindergarten workers
  • health professionals, such as doctors and nurses
  • counsellors and social workers
  • organisations such as child protection, migrant and integrated family services and the police

Child Information Sharing limits the number of people in an organisation who can access and share information. Training and support are provided to authorised staff members to ensure that they know when and why they can share information, and how to protect the privacy of children, young people and their families.

More information about organisations and services that can share information can be found at Who can share information under the information sharing and MARAM reformsExternal Link .

Example

Andy is a social support worker who receives a request from the admissions officer of a high school to share information about Lee. Andy supported Lee’s family when they were briefly homeless. After consulting with Lee and his family, Andy does not share information about their living situation, as he suspects it might be used to exclude Lee from enrolling at the school.

This is an example where professionals cannot share information – the admissions officer is not an authorised professional, and the information isn’t being used to support the wellbeing or safety of Lee or his family.

Your rights under Child Information Sharing

Family views are important in deciding to share information. Whenever possible, the views of the child and other family members who do not pose a risk to the child would be sought before sharing the information, where it is safe, appropriate and reasonable to do so.

However, there might be times when it is urgent to share information and it may not be possible or safe for the child to speak to families first.

As such, consent is not required from any person when sharing under Child Information Sharing. However, it provides strict guidelines for sharing, and protects all information shared.

Complaints

If you are concerned that information might have been shared in a way that is not permitted, you have the right to provide feedback and make a complaint.

To make a complaint in the first instance, speak to the organisation who shared the information. All organisations should have procedures in place for dealing with complaints.

If you are not satisfied that the matter has been resolved, a complaint may be made to:

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner if the complaint is about personal information

Website: http://www.ovic.vic.gov.auExternal Link

Telephone: 1300 666 444

The Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) if the complaint is regarding health information

Website: https://hcc.vic.gov.auExternal Link

Telephone: 1300 582 113

Resources

Reviewed 11 November 2022

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