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Information Sharing and Risk Management

A new family violence information sharing scheme

The Royal Commission into Family Violence acknowledged that organisations that work with victims and perpetrators of family violence collect a wide variety of information in order to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators to account.

The Commission also identified barriers that prevent information from being shared as effectively as it could be and found that the failure to share crucial information with frontline workers can have catastrophic consequences.

In response to the Commission’s findings, a family violence information sharing scheme will be created by the Family Violence Protection Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2017.

The Act will create an information sharing scheme that authorises a ‘trusted circle’ of information sharing entities (ISEs) to share information between themselves for risk assessment and risk management.

The Act will remove the requirement in existing Victorian privacy legislation that a serious threat to an individual must be imminent before information can be lawfully shared. This will apply generally, not just in the context of family violence.

The new family violence information sharing scheme does not interfere with existing legislation that allows information to be shared, for instance in privacy legislation or child protection legislation.

The family violence information sharing scheme will take a phased approach to implementing the information sharing scheme, with a select number of organisations prescribed in early 2018 as Information Sharing Entities (ISEs) including the first five Support and Safety Hub sites.

For more information on the scheme see the following factsheet and frequently asked questions.

Factsheet - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme(1).pdf Factsheet - Family Violence Information Sharing SchemePDF (937.59 KB) FAQs - Family Violence Infomation Sharing Scheme.pdf FAQs - Family Violence Infomation Sharing Scheme.pdfPDF (312.03 KB)

Snapshot of the new laws

The flow chart below also provides more detail on how the information sharing scheme will operate.

information sharing

Public consultation

Public consultation on the draft Regulations, the Regulatory Impact Statement (the RIS) and draft Ministerial Guidelines for the family violence information sharing scheme closed on Friday 13 October 2017. During the consultation period, stakeholders were invited to provide a written public submission or participate in one of five public forums that were convened across Victoria.

The draft Ministerial Guidelines, draft Regulations and the RIS that were released for public consultation in September-October 2017 can be found below.

The feedback from the public consultation process is currently being reviewed with a view of finalising these documents prior to commencement of the scheme in early 2018.

If you have any questions or queries in respect of the public consultation process, you can email infosharing@familysafety.vic.gov.au or telephone Family Safety Victoria on (03) 9194 3244.

Draft Ministerial Guidelines

The responsible Minister is required to issue Guidelines under Part 5A, which are legally binding on all prescribed ISEs (except for Courts). The Guidelines will assist information sharing entities to understand their obligations under Part 5A and ensure that information is shared in a way that appropriately balances the safety needs of family violence victims with individuals' rights to privacy.

The draft Ministerial Guidelines released for public consultation in September-October 2017 are below:

Draft Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme.pdf Draft Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing SchemePDF (2.31 MB) Draft Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (accessible format).docx Draft Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (accessible format)DOC (4.43 MB)

Draft Regulations: Initial tranche of information sharing entities

In order to ensure workforce readiness and sector capacity (thereby minimising risks of inappropriate information sharing) while ensuring immediate traction for those directly responding to family violence risk, a phased approach to implementing the legislative reforms is currently proposed:

Early 2018

Initial prescription of information sharing entities (ISEs) authorised to use the legislation will also facilitate the establishment of the first Support and Safety Hubs.

Prescribed ISEs will be organisations that play a core role in assessing and managing family violence risks, have a good understanding of family violence or can be trained quickly and operate in a well-regulated rule-based environment.

Later tranches

ISEs will be prescribed to align with the future phased Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework (Framework) rollout. These entities may include housing and homelessness workers, out-of-home care workers and maternal and child health nurses.

Proposed list of initial entities

The following is the proposed list of ISEs that will be included in the first tranche as risk assessment entities (RAEs) and protection entities in early 2018:

Risk assessment entities

  • State funded specialist women’s family violence services (including refuge staff)
  • State funded specialist men’s family violence services (including Men’s Behavioural Change Programs)
  • State funded sexual assault services
  • Nominated Child Protection representatives
  • Child FIRST
  • Victims Support Agency (including contracted Victim Assistance Program providers and Victims of Crime Helpline staff)
  • Victoria Police including sworn officers and VPS staff, but excluding PSOs and reservists
  • Support and Safety Hubs (once established)

Protection entities

  • Magistrates’ Court Family Violence Registrars
  • Magistrates’ Court Family Violence Applicant and Respondent Support workers
  • Magistrates' Court of Victoria Koori Court Family Violence and Victim Support Practitioners
  • Court Integrated Services Program
  • Children's Court Registry Manager, Children’s Court Family Violence Registrar and Manager (Alternative Dispute Resolution)
  • RAMPs
  • Corrections

Consultation with the Children’s Court and the Magistrates’ Court is continuing, as to the extent of their prescription in the initial tranche of ISEs.

Draft Regulations: Record Keeping Obligations

The proposal is to keep the record keeping obligations close to existing practice whilst ensuring that appropriate records are kept to assist with the review of the scheme and assist ISEs to respond to any complaints.

Record keeping obligations under the information sharing scheme will be prescribed in regulation. We are currently considering feedback on the draft record keeping obligations provided as part of the formal public consultation process on the regulations that closed on 13 October 2017.

The draft Regulations released for public consultation in September-October 2017 are below:

Draft Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations 2017.pdf Draft Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations 2017PDF (346.59 KB) Draft Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations 2017 (accessible format).docx Draft Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations 2017 (accessible format)DOC (53.46 KB)

Regulatory Impact Statement (the RIS)

In accordance with the requirements of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 and the Victorian Guide to Regulation, this Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) assesses the proposed Regulations in terms of their objectives, alternative approaches to achieving those objectives, and their impacts on government and the community sector. This RIS assesses the impacts of the initial stage of the information sharing regime and CIP rollout.

Regulatory Impact Statement - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme.pdf Regulatory Impact Statement - Family Violence Information Sharing SchemePDF (1.02 MB) Regulatory Impact Statement - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (accessible format).docx Regulatory Impact Statement - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (accessible format)DOC (977.01 KB) Office of the Commissioner for Better Regulation Assessment Letter for Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme Regulatory Impact Statement Office of the Commissioner for Better Regulation Assessment Letter for Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme Regulatory Impact StatementPDF (241.58 KB)

Risk Assessment and Risk Management

A new Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework is currently being developed in line with Recommendation 1 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Framework will also address issues and gaps in the current Framework that were identified by the Royal Commission, the Coronial Inquest into the death of Luke Geoffrey Batty and the 2016 Monash Review of the Framework.

The new Framework will allow greater awareness of information relevant to family violence risk assessment and management, to better protect victims and hold perpetrators to account. It will ensure:

  • all parts of the service system have a shared understanding of risk
  • workers have the skills and a framework to guide appropriate action
  • there is a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of other parts of the system to coordinate and implement safety and accountability planning

It is expected from July 2018 that prescribed organisations will adapt their policies and procedures to meet these changes.

As well as engaging experts to lead this work, the redevelopment of the Framework is being informed by extensive consultation across relevant sectors, with peak bodies, experts and academics, frontline users of the Framework, and service providers. It will also reflect the needs of child and adult victim survivors and the diverse needs and experiences of the Victorian community.

Public workshop consultations on the Framework have recently been undertaken across Victoria and feedback from the consultations is supporting the refinement of the Framework.