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Annexure

Annexure for the Review of the Family Violence Information Sharing Legislative Scheme Final Report.

Annexure One: Department and Agency Comments on Draft Report and Monash Response

Page / Section

Department / agency comment

Monash response

Indicate:

Is change accepted?

Is change appropriate?

Significance of amendment.

P 2, rec 1

FSV requests clarification about whether this recommendation relates to ISEs updating their pre-existing privacy policies and procedures (that they are required to have under State and Commonwealth privacy laws).

Accepted. Change is appropriate for clarification. Recommendation amended.

P 3, rec 2

FSV seeks clarification about the nature of the monitoring proposed in this recommendation, that is distinct from the mechanism proposed in recommendation 7.

Accepted. Change is appropriate for clarification. Recommendation amended. This recommendation specifically addresses developing datasets to measure outcomes. Recommendation 7 relates to the development of practice.

P 3, rec 7

DHHS suggests that the Aboriginal Children’s Forum, held quarterly, and constituted by all funded children and family Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), DHHS and FSV, would be the appropriate forum to consider impacts of the Scheme on Aboriginal people in relation to Aboriginal children and young people involved with Child Protection.

Accepted. Change is appropriate for clarification. The wording has been altered to allow for this suggestion.

Note the data collected in the Review suggests that current opportunities for discussion were not considered optimal. For this reason, the recommendation of a specific forum is retained for consideration.

P 4, rec 11

FSV seeks clarification about the reference to ‘the implications for seeking victim/survivor consent’ in this recommendation. Is this referring to circumstances where consent is required or not required under both schemes? The FVIS and CIS schemes have the same consent requirements.

Accepted. Appropriate amendment. Recommendation reworded for clarity.

P 4 rec 13, pages 93-94

FSV seeks clarification about the proposal that legal advice is sought and provided by the Enquiry Line. A government agency cannot source and provide legal advice to a non-government agency, as this could raise issues of a conflict of interest (particularly where some ISEs are government agencies and others are not). A good faith defence exists to protect practitioners where they have shared in good faith and using reasonable care.

Accepted. Appropriate amendment. Reworded for clarity and feasibility.

P 6

DHHS seeks that the report clarify that the child protection practice advice was updated on 27 September 2018 to provide guidance to child protection practitioners on how to respond to requests for information under the Scheme.

Accepted. Appropriate amendment. Additional information included as suggested.

P 7 rec 21, pages 150-151

FSV seeks clarification of this recommendation given that FSV does not have policy responsibility for privacy and data security laws. FSV is seeking clarification whether this recommendation is for the Victorian Government more broadly.

Sectors and workforces may be subject to specific data security standards for their sector. Data security standards apply to all information held by an organisation regardless of how that was obtained. Such information is likely to have been obtained under many different permissions unrelated to the FVISS.

Partially accepted. Appropriate amendment Recommendation reworded.

The recommendation does not locate FSV as the agency responsible for the laws but as a lead agency responsible for training and practice guidance relevant to the FVISS.

P 8 rec 22, pages 151-152

FSV seeks clarification of this recommendation, as FSV is not able to provide guidance or advice on the processes of an independent Tribunal. FSV suggests that this recommendation could focus on the Victorian Government working with the Tribunal to ensure that victim survivor’s safety is prioritised.

Accepted.

Appropriate amendment. Recommendation reworded.

Training

DHHS: The impact of COVID-19 will affect modes of training, and possibly content. This should be acknowledged in the sections and recommendations that relate to training.

Accepted.

Appropriate amendment. Amended to include reference to the potential impact on training of COVID-19

P 2: ‘…ongoing…punitive state intervention in Aboriginal lives, especially child removal’

DHHS acknowledges that the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care, in Victoria, and nationally, is unacceptable. Progress is being made to address this, and the number of Aboriginal children entering care in Victoria is slowing.

The statement does not consider how structural disadvantage leads to over representation of Aboriginal children and families in all systems, which is acknowledged by the Victorian Government.

Child protection has specific roles and responsibilities under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYFA), together with the Children’s Court, to provide for the protection of children, and the Children’s Court must approve any application to remove a child from parental care.

The statement does not acknowledge the legislated roles of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) within child protection, or the legislative requirements recognising the principle of Aboriginal self-management and self-determination such as the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and the additional decision-making principles for Aboriginal children in the CYFA.

These legislative requirements inform best practice advice that requires child protection practitioners to seek assistance from ACCOs in critical decision-making, and the preparation of cultural support plans for children in care.

The Victorian Government is committed to Aboriginal self-determination through the Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Children and Families Agreement. National leading initiatives in Victoria include the Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program which commenced in November 2017 that enables implementation of section 18 of the CYFA for ACCOs to take full responsibility for Aboriginal children on Children’s Court protection orders, including orders where the children are placed with one or both of their parents.

Partially accepted.

The word ‘punitive’ is removed.

Sentence added on Aboriginal structural disadvantage and the relevance of this to child removal/child protection reports.

The Report focuses on practitioner, expert and manager perspectives and experiences.

The pertinent discussion is focused on practice. The Report notes throughout that policy intent does not always match practice. It also highlights at numerous points that the FVISS (and CISS) do not intend in any way to negatively impact Aboriginal people and that this is made clear in Ministerial Guidelines.

Aboriginal perspectives are highlighted in a separate section and throughout the Report with the understanding that the prominence of Aboriginal voices matches the Government commitment.

P 6, section 4

P 7, para 6

P 104 ‘Issues were also identified with child protection which is perceived as not readily sharing family violence risk relevant information, while continuing to seek high levels of victim/survivor information.’

DHHS requests the report clarify that:

  • while child protection can request and is required to share risk relevant information under the Scheme, the information sharing provisions in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005(CYFA) are also available to child protection when they are exercising their functions and powers under the CYFA to protect children, including assessing risks to children, and are different to those under the Scheme
  • Child protection is only able to share information in accordance with legislation such as the Scheme and CYFA. This means that some requests for information may be refused where legislation does not permit certain information to be shared.

Partially accepted.

Amended to include reference to the specific CYFA provisions.

The Report is presenting the views of participants in interviews and focus groups and respondents to the survey and the text makes this clear.

P 7 ‘The RCFV (2016) urged that ‘[c]urrent efforts to ensure that Child Protection practitioners have a better understanding of family violence so that risk can be assessed and managed, and women are given appropriate support, must be strengthened … This remains a critical challenge.’

DHHS requests the report clarify that ‘Tilting the Practice’family violence training was rolled out to child protection practitioners in 2018 following the Royal Commission into Family Violence. This training includes working with survivors with a trauma informed lens, working with the mother, and focusing more attention on the perpetrator’s behaviour.

There is no evidence to support the conclusion that child protection practitioners’ understanding of family violence remains a ‘critical challenge’, and DHHS requests that the sentence be removed or reworded.

Partially accepted.

Amended. Reference to Tilting the Practice included.

The sentence has been reworded as requested. However, note that the data collected as part of the Review provides evidence to suggest that there is a need to continue to work to build family violence informed practice in Child Protection.

P 35, section 7.3

“As of January 2020, the following states and territories currently have legislative provisions enabling information sharing in family violence contexts: Victoria (2017)….”

DHHS requests:

  • the report clarify that before the introduction of the Scheme in 2017, information sharing in ‘family violence contexts’ was, and still is, permitted under other Acts, specifically the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005(CYFA) and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and that the thresholds for sharing information under these Acts are different to the Scheme.
  • that the specific roles and responsibilities of child protection under the CYFA, including child protection’s responsibility to focus on the protection of the child, be identified in this section

The purpose of the Scheme is to make it easier for professionals to collaborate and share information with each other to facilitate assessment and management of family violence risk to children and adults.

The Scheme does not affect child protection’s ability to collect, use, and share information in accordance with the information sharing provisions under the CYFA in ‘family violence contexts’.

Partially accepted.

The scope of the literature review is clarified to indicate that it is focused on specific family violence sharing legislative schemes rather than broader schemes that allow for the sharing of information that may include family violence information.

P 54 ‘The intention of the Scheme was to make women and children facing family violence safer’

DHHS suggests adding ‘by facilitating assessment and management of family violence risk to children and adults’

Accepted. Amended. Minor.

P 54, quote from the Victim/Survivor Focus Group, 21.9.18

DHHS: It is unclear if the experience of the victim/survivor is from 2013 or is current. If it is from 2013, Tilting the Practicehas been introduced since then and is aimed at addressing some of these issues about maintaining a focus on the actions of the perpetrator.

Not accepted.

The Report states that this participant left her relationship five year ago, so no confusion arises.

P 55, para 1

DHHS: The Victorian Government accepted all 227 Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. As at December 2019 154 have been implemented and 73 are ‘in progress’. All recommendations in relation to ‘family violence and the child protection system’ have been implemented.

DHHS has focused on developing family violence expertise in child protection by adopting Tilting the Practicetraining and establishing the roles of the Family Violence State-wide Principal Practitioner and Senior Practitioners Family Violence.

Partially accepted.

Amended to indicate that Royal Commission recommendations have been implemented and reference made to Tilting the Practice training.

P 57, quote from ‘Catharine’

DHHS: It is unclear who Catharine’s information was ‘passed on to’. DHHS requests that the report clarify that the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005provides that anyone can report concerns about the wellbeing of a child, or that a child is in need of protection, to child protection, and that some professionals are mandated to do so.

Not accepted.

Catharine’s story makes her concerns clear. The specific legislation is not relevant here.

P 64 “A central focus of this concern is tied to systematic ongoing practices of removal of Aboriginal children since colonisation”

The Victorian Government does not have a ‘systematic’ practice of removing Aboriginal children. All removals of Aboriginal children must be approved by the Children’s Court following grounds being found that they are in need for protection.

The Victorian Government is committed to Aboriginal self-determination which is reflected by its partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs). These partnerships have enabled legislation and developed policies and programs that allow ACCOs to inform child protection on matters relating to Aboriginal children involved with child protection, undertake case management for Aboriginal children and/or take full responsibility for Aboriginal children in care. This aims to address the over-representation of Aboriginal children involved with child protection.

Whilst the over-representation is unacceptable, progress is being made, and the number of Aboriginal children entering care is reducing.

Partially accepted.

The word systematic has been removed.

The Report makes it clear that Aboriginal organisations remain concerned about the removal of Aboriginal children. The basis of this concern in history and ongoing practice are set out and evidence from recent relevant reports is integrated into the analysis.

P 70

DHHS: Child protection practitioners receive enhanced training in relation to the structural disadvantages for many Aboriginal children and families. Unconscious bias is also addressed in training.

Accepted. This detail added. Minor amendment.

P 75 ‘it is widely accepted that family violence risk assessment training is essential for effective family violence information sharing…’

FSV seeks clarification as to whether MARAM training was considered essential rather than risk assessment, noting the different responsibilities that services that might have under MARAM.

Accepted. Minor amendment.

P 108, ‘Many participants remained concerned that Child Protection continued to be primarily focused on monitoring mothers rather than supporting women and children experiencing family violence to find safety together.’

P 108 ‘Participants commented that Child Protection rarely request information in a way that is family violence risk relevant.’

P 132, first paragraph under section 8.8

DHHS requests that the:

  • specific roles and responsibilities of child protection under theChildren, Youth and Families Act 2005(CYFA), including child protection’s responsibility to focus on the protection of the child, be identified.
  • report clarify that while child protection can request, and is required to share, risk relevant information under the Scheme the information sharing provisions in the CYFA are available to child protection when they are exercising their functions and powers under the CYFA to protect children, including assessing risks to children, and are different to those under the Scheme
  • Child Protection is also prescribed as a MARAM framework organisation and is aligning to the MARAM Framework.

Partially accepted.

Information added on CYFA.

The Report is based on the data collected from participants and the statements reflect those perceptions as the statement makes clear.

P 108 ‘As this manager suggests, having an excess of information can lead to inappropriate forward sharing that may increase family violence risk’

  • Consistent with the role and responsibilities of child protection under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005,it is appropriate for child protection to know the details of a child’s therapist. DHHS requests that the sentence be removed or re-worded.
  • It is unclear what ‘inappropriate forward sharing’ of information is referring to. The information contained in the report does not support a conclusion that a breach of the information sharing provisions in the Scheme and/or other Acts has occurred. Depending on the circumstances, the father may be entitled to know where the child is receiving therapy, unless there are grounds to withhold that information.

Partially accepted.

The wording has been changed and the word inappropriate deleted.

Clarified that the concern from the family violence specialist’s perspective is with sharing information that may potentially increase risk to victim/survivors.

P 109 ‘This specialist family violence expert reported that Child Protection have utilised the FVISS to obtain information and establish protective concerns based on family violence victim/survivor information. It was suggested that this fails to achieve one of the key aims of the Scheme which is to bring the perpetrator into view.’

DHHS acknowledges this is the view from an Expert Interview. However, this section does not acknowledge the role and responsibilities of child protection under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005,including child protection’s responsibility to focus on the protection of the child. DHHS requests that this is clarified.

Child protection is not prohibited from using information collected under the Scheme to inform a decision about whether a child is in need of protection.

Child protection is also prescribed as a framework organisation and is aligning to the MARAM Framework.

Partially accepted.

Wording has been amended to highlight this is the view of the expert.

There is no suggestion that Child Protection was acting outside its legal remit, only that sharing in the context set out, could in the view of the expert, undermine the safety of the victim/survivor.

PP 109-110 “Other agencies saying they can't share information eg: CP [Child Protection] refusing to provide court orders to family services..”

While child protection can request, and is required to share, risk relevant information under the Scheme, they are only able to share information in accordance with legislation such as the Scheme and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. This means that some requests for information may be refused where legislation does not permit certain information to be shared.

Not accepted.

The comment is contextualised. It clearly represents the view of the respondent on a barrier to the effective implementation of the FVISS.

P 124

DHHS: ‘Maternal and Child Health’, not ‘Maternal Child Health’.

Accepted. Minor amendment.

PP 130-131, quote from Manager Interview, AOD, 10.9.19

DHHS requests that the report identifies the specific example of ‘inappropriate information sharing practice’.

The conclusion that child protection is a key organisation involved in ‘inappropriate information sharing practice’ does not acknowledge that the information sharing provisions in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005(CYFA) are available to child protection when they are exercising their functions and powers under the CYFA, and therefore may not be ‘inappropriate information sharing practice’. DHHS requests that this sentence be removed.

Accepted. Sentence removed.

P 2 & 60

The Department of Education and Training (the Department) notes that the draft review report refers throughout to perceptions from community participants of a fear that information sharing and the CISS may increase Child Protection activity.

The Department agrees it is critical to acknowledge and address these perceptions, and requests that the report outlines the availability of any relevant data on community outcomes in this respect.

The Department requests that the report makes it clear that the CISS has been designed to enable early supports and assistance to reduce or remove the need for more acute Child Protection interventions, and there is no evidence to the contrary.

Not accepted.

There is no data on community outcomes that was made available to the Review team and it is our understanding that none exists. The Report recommends (recommendation 2) that data on the outcomes of the Scheme for Aboriginal people and families in particular be gathered to better monitor the impacts of the Scheme so than any negative or that any negative or unintended consequences can be addressed.

The Report makes it clear throughout the policy intentions of each information sharing scheme. Evidence from experts, practitioners and managers speaks to concern about the impact of the legislation that remains despite policy intent.

P 4, rec 8 and 9

Pages 71-80

The Department provides the following additional information on planned training delivery, related to recommendations 9 and 10.

In relation to recommendation 9, the Department advises that a group of expert trainers has been recruited, who are engaging in a range of professional development and other activities that will prepare them for delivering integrated Information Sharing training to education portfolio workforces.

In relation to recommendation 10, the Department will provide a tailored workforce training program including experiential training, both online and face to face. In addition, the Department will provide trainer resources to enable ISE leaders and managers to provide more localised staff training where appropriate and desirable.

Not accepted.

This information was provided outside of the data collection period and is not or may not be relevant to the timeframe of the Review.

P 60-62

The Department notes that the report refers to a perception of CISS having consequences for the implementation of FVISS.

The Department agrees it is critical to acknowledge these perceptions and that it is critical to address and resolve them.

The Department requests it to be made clear in the report that information sharing in a family violence context, whether using CISS or FVISS, takes place in exactly the same manner, as required by MARAM.

The CISS Ministerial Guidelines Chapter 3, require ISEs who are sharing information in a family violence context to comply with the FVISS Guidelines and in consideration of MARAM.

The Department further offers that CISS was designed to work with FVISS in a complementary way and is intended to increase the ability for organisations like Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and other services working with children and families to provide support early, before a situation escalates to Child Protection. There has been no evidence to the contrary. As such, CISS was supported by Aboriginal organisations.

Partially accept.

The Report makes clear the policy intent of the FVISS and the CISS and is reviewing the extent to which the intent has been realised for the FVISS as implemented concurrently with the CISS.

The Ministerial Guidelines (FVISS and CISS) are referred to a number of times throughout the Report.

P 62 & 65

The Department notes that the report raises the remit of CISS provisions, and a perception of ACCO service providers relating to assumptions about wellbeing or safety that may not recognise or build in cultural frameworks.

The Department agrees that these perceptions are critical to acknowledge, address and resolve.

The Department seeks to clarify that the CISS requires all ISEs to:

  • be respectful of and have regard to a child’s social, individual, cultural identity and any vulnerability relevant to their safety
  • promote a child’s cultural safety and recognise the cultural rights and familial and community connections of the child.

The Department wishes to clarify that the majority of Aboriginal organisations consulted during the formulation of CISS policy and legislation, including the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, supported CISS and highlighted the benefits it could bring for Aboriginal children and families, combined with the reinforcement of cultural safety training and cultural safety practices.

Not accepted.

Clear throughout the Report that the concerns remain despite the policy intent.

The report gives space to the perspectives of Aboriginal Organisations on the implementation and outcomes of the FVISS (in combination with the CISS).

P 75-76

The Department offers clarification in relation to the discussion around timing and sequencing leading to recommendation 8. It is the position of the Department that the report should note the following information for context and clarification:

  • a suite of online learning modules for ISE Leaders and Sharers have been available for prescribed workforces on the Victorian government’s Learning Management System, accessible from the Victorian Government’s Information Sharing and MARAM website, from late 2018. This online e-learning is currently being reviewed ahead of the commencement of Phase 2.
  • Guidance materials and resources have been available online since September 2018. These will be updated ahead of the commencement of Phase 2 and additional materials provided to reflect the broader range of organisations being prescribed.

Updated e-learning resources will be available on the Victorian Government’s Information Sharing and MARAM website prior to the commencement of Phase 2. Phase 1 e‑learning training materials continue to be available online.

Not accepted.

The DET comments/information are provided outside the timeframe of data gathering for the Review and in addition may not be relevant to the timeframe of the Review.

There is reference to e-learning and practice guidance under question 1 with regard to training

p. 76-80

The Department provides the following clarifications in relation to the discussion about training quality ahead of Recommendations 9 & 10:

  • The authors reference the DET report prepared from evaluation data collected during WOVG Phase 1 training, including positive outcomes, however, as per page 78, place much greater focus on quotations the authors gathered from focus groups and surveys conducted between eight months and one year after the relevant training concluded.
  • It is important that relevant context is acknowledged in the report, for example, that the WOVG Phase 1 training was not intended to be Family Violence specialist training, nor training in Family Violence (which was to follow with MARAM training), but rather to help develop shared language and understanding about family violence and child wellbeing and safety across the prescribed sectors, and to encourage those sectors to move towards more shared practices.
  • It was found that a key strength of the WOVG Phase 1 training was in drawing a number of workforces together to jointly explore how information sharing across sectors might enhance their practice and improve outcomes for their clients.

The Department requests that the report clarifies that Initial Phase 1 training was not intended to be tailored to the needs of individual workforces, and also that the report acknowledges that workforce specific training was provided by agencies, including DHHS, DJCS and VicPol.

Partially accepted.

The positive qualitative training feedback data is highlighted up front and is framed positively.

The qualitative information

  • Requires more space as it is text based
  • The Report focuses on lessons for phase Two and the critical feedback on training provides insights in relation to this.

The Report indicates that the focus of the training was not as well communicated as it might have been.

The report focuses on the effectiveness of the training in relation to the Scheme.

The report discusses the issues of tailored and generic training in detail under s. 8.3.4 where a sentence has been added re workforce specific training and the language has been amended slightly.

p. 81

The Department provides the following clarification in relation to recommendation 11, that guidance relating to the application of and intersection of the CISS and FVISS is already expressed in all WOVG training materials, guidance materials and in the Guidelines for both Schemes.

The Department requests that Recommendation 11 take this information into account.

Partially accepted.

The recommendation has been reworded for clarity. However, the recommendation focuses on training delivery as well as training materials and is in line with the feedback received from participants about training.

The Report notes that the Ministerial Guidelines while clear and comprehensive are not a sufficient basis for translating policy intent into practice.

P 94

The Department provides the below clarifications and requests that these be taken into account, as the report refers to CISS at a contextual level:

  • The report refers to the CISS however omitting essential context regarding its history, inception and its intended alignment with the FVISS. CISS was designed to be aligned with and complementary to FVISS and was implemented together with FVISS. The reforms support and reinforce each other.
  • At page 94 the Report first acknowledges that development of the CISS was a response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and a decade of independent reviews and inquiries. This reform landscape is critical to consider together with the RCFV and in light of the Victorian Government’s policy agenda.
  • In response to this reform landscape and agenda, and since the CISS was conceived, it has been developed in close collaboration with FSV and designed to sit alongside the FVISS.

It is requested that the report provide a more fulsome description of the purpose of CISS and the complementarity of CISS and FVISS, in both design and implementation.

Partially accepted.

Context about the introduction of the CISS is provided earlier in the Report.

The intent of the CISS is set out in a number of places throughout the Report.

It is indicated in a number of places that the CISS and the FVISS have been developed in collaboration.

The CISS is the subject of a separate review and the additional detail about its design and implementation are not within scope of this Review.

P 94

The Department notes findings made regarding the coordinated implementation of the CISS and FVISS, and that CISS is perceived to have made the FVISS more complex and may have delayed implementation of the FVISS.

The Department clarifies that CISS has been delivered on the schedule agreed by the relevant implementation governance body sitting across all portfolio agencies and at all times in alignment with FSV agreed timeframes.

The Department notes that no evidence to clarify or support the abovementioned claim is provided in the report.

Partially accepted.

Deleted the reference to delay.

Annexure Two: Conflict of interest table

Name

Role/Title

Conflict of Interest Status (potential, perceived, or actual conflict)

Jude McCulloch

Monash University, Professor of Criminology, Project Director

Perceived

FSV notified by Monash 28 August 2019 that Monash initiated discussions about Monash potential input into family violence education with Review team members could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

JaneMaree Maher

Monash University, Professor of Sociology, Chief Investigator

Perceived

FSV notified by Monash 28 August 2019 that Monash initiated discussions about Monash potential input into family violence education with Review team members could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

Kate Fitz-Gibbon

Monash University, Senior Lecturer Criminology, Chief Investigator

Potential/Perceived

Member of the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions (November 2016 - August 2018)

Director, Respect Victoria (July 2018 - present)

MARAM Expert Advisory Group (August 2018 - present)

Marie Segrave

Monash University, Associate Professor Criminology, Chief Investigator

Nil

Kathryn Benier

Monash University, Senior Lecturer Criminology, Chief Investigator

Nil

Kate Burns

Monash University, Senior Lecturer Criminology, Chief Investigator

Nil

Jasmine McGowan

Monash University, Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, Centre Manager

Nil

Naomi Pfitzner

Monash University, Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, Research Fellow

Nil

Reviewed 18 August 2020

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