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Implementation

  • Initial state-wide roll out of an intensive training program for Phase One prescribed workforces related to the information sharing reforms was attended by approximately 2,000 participants and served to create an awareness of the reforms within three months of their commencement.
  • Additional training was provided by relevant government departments tailored to their respective workforces.
  • Follow up support for Phase One implementation is ongoing and includes a range of learning resources and an enquiry line. There have been more than 6,000 registrations for online training.
  • Family Safety Victoria sector grants to relevant peak/lead bodies have been important to extending the reach and understanding of the information sharing reforms among diverse sectors and workforces with varying experience of child-focus practice.
  • Stakeholder feedback suggests there is continuing need to upskill prescribed workforces in the legislative provisions and requirements of the Child Information Sharing (CIS) Scheme to support effective implementation across the information sharing entities.
  • Further work is required to support a consistent and informed level of understanding of the threshold for application of the CIS Scheme.
  • There is evidence of improved workforce attitudes to child information sharing since commencement of the CIS Scheme and preparedness to share information.
  • While organisational policies are in place to support workforces in implementing the CIS Scheme, there may be a low level of compliance with the record keeping obligations in the Child Wellbeing and Safety (Information Sharing) Regulations 2018 and explained in the Ministerial Guidelines.

Enablers and barriers to implementation

  • Stakeholders have identified enablers and barriers to implementation of the CIS Scheme that relate to issues such as the anxiety of workers around privacy and confidentiality concerns, translation of policy into practice and understanding of child-focus practice.
  • Data on information sharing requests is thin and will need to improve for effective and ongoing monitoring of the child information reforms.
  • A number of strategies have been adopted by prescribed organisations and services to target culture change in support of effective implementation of the CIS Scheme. There is opportunity to better disseminate these innovative approaches to the potential advantage of Phase One and Phase Two prescribed workforces.
  • While there is a high level of understanding about the purpose of the CIS Scheme further work is required to embed practice.

Achievement of intended outcomes

  • Among prescribed workforces surveyed, there was a perception that legal restrictions and organisational policies that inhibited information sharing had decreased since commencement of the CIS Scheme, and that they were less likely to refuse a request for information after the introduction of the CIS Scheme. Privacy was also less likely to be cited as a reason to be used for refusing requests for information but was still likely to be a factor when survey respondents’ requests for information were refused.
  • Information sharing activity appears to have remained mostly the same since commencement of the CIS Scheme based on the results of the surveys of prescribed workforces, with some evidence pointing to a slight decline in the level of activity. Other evidence suggests that during the coronavirus pandemic there may be specific forms of information sharing activity that have increased while others have decreased.
  • There is some evidence for a cultural shift towards early identification of supports for children, with some prescribed workforces appearing to have lower thresholds for seeking information.
  • Prescribed workforces also appear to be considering a wider range of information sources when doing case planning for children.
  • There is increased evidence of collaboration and coordination between sectors at various levels, including between peak bodies, individual services, and individual workers.
  • Continued support and education is required to build on early signs of positive outcomes to ensure that these reforms are firmly embedded among information sharing entities.

Unintended adverse impacts

  • The formalisation of information sharing practices among some information sharing entities has caused local relationships to decline as informal information sharing between local agencies has decreased. However, it is noted that previous options for information sharing may not have been appropriate and an objective of the CIS Scheme was to provide confidence around the legality of child information sharing.
  • In some cases, the CIS Scheme has complicated information sharing procedures for information sharing entities that previously shared information through other mechanisms. Information sharing entities are preoccupied with thinking about whether the CIS Scheme can be used and neglected the fact that they previously shared information through other avenues.

Prescription of information sharing entities

  • Alignment of implementation of the CIS Scheme with the Family Violence Information Sharing (FVIS) Scheme and Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework was seen by Phase One prescribed workforces as consistent with the integrated way in which these reforms were being operationalised in practice.
  • Interface of the FVIS and CIS Schemes has highlighted practices that can be strengthened to ensure the successful implementation of the CIS Scheme that include reinforcing the importance of routinely gathering accurate information, formalising standards for information collection and developing processes for documenting information sharing occasions and outcomes.
  • Improved sharing of information between secondary/tertiary and universal services was considered to be more likely to deliver the early intervention benefits intended for the CIS Scheme, and the opportunity to promote child wellbeing outside of family violence contexts.
  • For some Phase One prescribed organisations and services, expanding the CIS Scheme under planned Phase Two will enable a whole of organisation approach to the CIS Scheme and collaboration with other internal services to be prescribed under Phase Two.
  • Choice of information sharing entities for Phase One has been appropriate when reflecting on the scale of implementation and the training required. There is a continuing need to build child information sharing capacity among Phase One information sharing entities.
  • The selection of Phase One information sharing entities has illustrated the breadth of service providers in contact with children directly or indirectly through a family context and supports provided to parents/carers, and the opportunities to build a wider network of services able to participate in promoting child wellbeing and safety.

Impacts on diverse and disadvantaged communities

  • The continuing need to improve engagement of diverse population groups with support services will affect the extent of the impact of the CIS Scheme in this area.
  • More robust data collection related to application of the CIS Scheme will be required to monitor and assess use and impact of the CIS Scheme with diverse communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

  • Aboriginal communities continue to be hesitant about information sharing being unsafe as:
    • the CIS Scheme is not perceived to have been developed by Aboriginal people
    • distrust and fear of the removal of children persists
  • There is support for development of Aboriginal community understanding about the CIS Scheme, and the development of culturally appropriate training and resource materials for prescribed workforces.
  • Consistent with the broader investigation of approaches to improve access to, and participation in services by diverse population groups, an improved understanding of issues that could potentially jeopardise sharing of child information will be important to avoid undermining engagement with services.

Reviewed 30 March 2021

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