Recordkeeping and information sharing

Volume 8 of the Final Report of the Royal Commission in 2017 contains 23 recommendations relating to recordkeeping and information sharing between institutions in order to improve the identification, prevention and response to incidents and risks of child sexual abuse. The Victorian Government accepted all 23 recommendations, either in full or in principle. You can read the Victorian Government’s 2018 response to Volume 8 here.

Retention of records by institutions

The Royal Commission recommended that institutions engaged in child-related work should retain records relating to child sexual abuse for at least 45 years. The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has identified over 100 Records and Disposal Authorities which may relate to child sexual abuse records and is reviewing them to ensure they comply with this recommendation. In addition, PROV will develop a General Disposal Authority for records relating to child sexual abuse that has occurred or is alleged to have occurred.

Guidance for institutions on recordkeeping

The Royal Commission recommended that state and territory records authorities provide guidance to government and non-government institutions on identification, retention and disposal of records that may become relevant to child sexual abuse. PROV has published a guideline to assist Victorian government institutions to identify, create, manage and retain records of child sexual abuse that might become relevant to actual or alleged child sexual abuse.

The Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities has agreed to jointly develop guidance and resources for government and non-government institutions on recordkeeping. These will be published online, communicated via recordkeeping newsletters and promoted at conferences and events.

Supporting institutions to adopt and implement the principles for records and recordkeeping

The Royal Commission recommended that all institutions that engage in child-related work should implement five principles for records and recordkeeping. The Recordkeeping Standards and Specifications set by PROV are consistent with these principles. PROV will work with national and state and territory records authorities to promote and communicate the principles.

Improving information sharing across sectors

The Royal Commission highlighted that the proactive sharing of information between institutions is essential in identifying, preventing and responding to instances of child sexual abuse.

The Victorian Government’s Child Information Sharing Scheme commenced on 27 September 2018 and enables authorised professionals working in prescribed organisations (known as ‘information sharing entities’) who work with children, young people and their families to share information with each other to promote children’s wellbeing or safety. Examples of information sharing entities include Child Protection, registered community-based child and family services, Maternal and Child Health Services, and Victoria Police.

The Victorian Government is also a party to a number of child protection protocols and operating procedures to facilitate information sharing between interstate departments responsible for child protection. Victoria continues to work with other states and territories to facilitate effective information sharing to support responses to institutional abuse.

Sharing information about teachers and students

The Royal Commission found that a lack of information sharing between teacher registration authorities, non-teaching staff and employers can enable alleged perpetrators to move between schools and jurisdictions.

In September 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council noted the recommendations in a report of a National Review of Teacher Registration, including recommendations about sharing information between teacher regulatory authorities. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership is currently working with jurisdictions to develop an implementation strategy for the recommendations of the National Review of Teacher Registration.

The Department of Education and Training and the Department of Justice and Community Safety are working together to identify the types of information that need to be shared with schools to assist safety planning relating to the young person and the broader school community. This is occurring in a number of contexts including under the Education Justice Initiative, a program that supports young people appearing before the Children’s Court to reconnect with educational pathways.

Carer registers

The Royal Commission noted that inadequate information sharing about carer suitability can place children in care at risk. It considered that better informed decisions about carer suitability and placement safety could be achieved through carer registers, which could assist agencies in assessing, authorising and supervising carers.

The Victorian Government maintains the Victorian Carer Register, which contains information about approved foster carers, residential facility carers, and other providers of services to children in out-of-home care residential facilities. The Victorian Government is working with other states and territories to consider a national approach to the sharing of carer information.