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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 has been created by the new Part 5A of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

The scheme began on 26 February 2018, and it authorises a select group of prescribed information sharing entities (ISEs) to share information between themselves for family violence risk assessment and risk management.

The Act also removes the requirement in existing Victorian privacy legislation that a serious threat to an individual's life, health, safety or welfare must be imminent before information can be lawfully shared.

The new scheme does not interfere with existing legislation that allows information to be shared, such as privacy or child protection legislation.

Who can use the scheme?

The initial tranche of prescribed ISEs authorised to share information under the scheme includes: 

ISEs that are also risk assessment entities (RAEs)

  • workers in state-funded specialist women’s family violence services (including refuge staff)
  • workers in state-funded specialist men’s family violence services (including men’s behaviour change programs)
  • workers in state-funded sexual assault services
  • community-based Child Protection workers co-located in a Support and Safety Hub and their manager or supervisor
  • Child FIRST workers (excluding broader family services)
  • Victims Support Agency workers (including those working for contracted Victims Assistance Program providers and Victims of Crime Helpline staff)
  • Victoria Police including sworn officers and VPS staff, but excluding Protective Services Officers and reservists
  • Support and Safety Hub workers

ISEs

  • Magistrates’ Court of Victoria staff
    • Family Violence Registrars
    • Family Violence Applicant and Respondent Support Workers
    • Koori Court Family Violence and Victim Support practitioners
    • Court Integrated Services Program workers
  • Children's Court of Victoria staff: 
    • Registry Manager
    • Family Violence Registrar
    • Manager - Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Risk Assessment and Management Panel (RAMP) members (including Child Protection workers and those working for other services but only when participating in a RAMP)
  • Corrections staff (including Adult Parole Board)

These ISEs represent staff in 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.

Information and support for ISEs

Resources

A range of resources is available to help information sharing entities understand their obligations and ensure information is shared in a way that balances the safety of family violence victims with individuals' privacy.

In particular, the responsible Minister has issued Guidelines under Part 5A, which are legally binding for all prescribed ISEs (except courts).

Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme Ministerial Guidelines - Family Violence Information Sharing SchemePDF (3.49 MB) Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines - Summary Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines - SummaryPDF (1.94 MB) Factsheet - Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme Factsheet - Family Violence Information Sharing SchemePDF (371.33 KB)A guide for ISEs on how to share information A guide for ISEs on how to share informationPDF (1.11 MB)Flowchart diagram Flowchart diagramPDF (159.5 KB) Appendix A - Information sharing process checklist when making a request Appendix A - Information sharing process checklist when making a requestPDF (959.83 KB) Appendix B - Information sharing process checklist when responding to a request Appendix B - Information sharing process checklist when responding to a requestPDF (982.53 KB) Appendix C - Information sharing consent form (for adult victim survivors only) Appendix C - Information sharing consent form (for adult victim survivors only)PDF (955.46 KB) Appendix D - Model conversation for obtaining consent from an adult victim survivor Appendix D - Model conversation for obtaining consent from an adult victim survivorPDF (956.09 KB) Appendix E - Model conversation for obtaining consent from a child victim survivor Appendix E - Model conversation for obtaining consent from a child victim survivorPDF (974.96 KB) Appendix F - Your Information and Your Safety factsheet Appendix F - Your Information and Your Safety factsheetPDF (958.29 KB) Appendix G - Example record keeping form Appendix G - Example record keeping formPDF (965.42 KB)

Contact information 

ISEs authorised to use the scheme can request access to ISE contact information. 

Request access

For more information, or if you have any queries, please email infosharing@familysafety.vic.gov.au

 

Implementation

The scheme will be implemented in a phased approach to ensure workforce readiness and sector capacity:

From 26 February 2018 - initial tranche 

An initial tranche of information sharing entities (ISEs) have been authorised to use the legislation. This will also facilitate the establishment of the first Support and Safety Hubs.

Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations 2018

September 2018 - broader rollout 

From September 2018, organisations that provide the following services will be prescribed:

  • integrated family services
  • youth justice and funded programs 
  • Child Protection
  • Maternal and Child Health services
  • Youth Parole Board
  • Justice Health and funded programs
  • State-funded financial counselling programs
  • Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Program
  • State-funded alcohol and other drugs services
  • Department of Health and Human Services Housing
  • State-funded homelessness services
  • State-funded mental health services
  • out-of-home care services

There will be a phased rollout of the scheme to these workforces based on readiness and to allow for knowledge and capability building (e.g. some services may start with selected managers and delegates only).

The phased introduction will align with the commencement of the  Child Wellbeing and Safety Information Sharing Scheme.  It will also coincide with the prescription of workforces under the redeveloped Family Violence  Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework. While many of the organisations in the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme will also be in the Child Wellbeing and Safety Information Sharing Scheme, some will only be in one scheme depending on the types of information they hold and their client group.

Family Safety Victoria is working with relevant departments to align implementation across the three reforms. Integrated training, tools, and resources will be provided to support the application of the new schemes and redeveloped framework in practice.

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

Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework

The Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework is being redeveloped in line with recommendation 1 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The redeveloped Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework will also address issues and gaps in the current framework – often referred to as the common risk assessment framework or ‘CRAF’ –  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 redeveloped 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

Redevelopment of the framework is being informed by extensive consultation across relevant sectors, with peak bodies, experts and academics, practitioners, and service providers.

The redeveloped framework will also reflect the needs of child and adult victim survivors and the needs and experiences of Victoria’s diverse communities.

Introduction of the redeveloped framework

From September 2018, organisations that provide the following services must ensure that relevant policies, procedures, practice guidance and tooks align with the redeveloped framework:

  • State-funded specialist family violence services (both women's and men's services) 
  • State-funded sexual assault services
  • Child Protection
  • Child FIRST
  • Victims Support Agency
  • Victims Assistance Program-funded services 
  • Corrections Victoria and Correctional Contracted Services Providers (including Adult Parole Board) 
  • Victoria Police
  • Magistrates’ Court
  • Children’s Court
  • Support and Safety Hubs
  • Risk Assessment and Management Panels
  • Integrated family services
  • Youth justice and funded programs
  • State-funded alcohol and other drugs services
  • Department of Health and Human Services Housing
  • State-funded homelessness services
  • State-funded mental health services
  • Out-of-home care services
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Youth Parole Board
  • Justice Health and funded programs
  • State-funded financial counselling programs
  • Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Program
  • Victoria Legal Aid (redeveloped framework only)
  • Community Legal Centres (redeveloped framework only) 

There will be a phased rollout of the redeveloped framework to these workforces based on readiness, and to allow for knowledge and capability building (e.g. some services may start with selected managers and delegates only). 

The phased introduction of the redeveloped framework will align with the broadening of the prescribed organisations and workforces permitted to share information under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the commencement of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Information Sharing Scheme.

Family Safety Victoria is working with relevant departments to align implementation across the three reforms.  Integrated training, tools, and resources will be provided to support the application of the new schemes and redeveloped framework in practice. 

In the meantime, practitioners are encouraged to continue improving their family violence risk assessment capabilities through existing CRAF training. Visit the Lookout for more information. 

 

Contact information

For more information about the redeveloped framework, please email infosharing@familysafety.vic.gov.au