It is common for people experiencing family violence to come into contact with multiple support services, such as health services, specialist family violence services, Victoria Police and housing services.
Information sharing is one way in which services can work together to keep victim survivors safe and hold perpetrators accountable.
“How Does Information Sharing Affect Me?”
As a specialist family violence worker, you are required to actively share family violence risk information with and request it from other professionals. How you approach this task must be guided by appropriate information sharing legislation. There are several interrelated pieces of Victorian legislation which you should be aware of:
- The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme: This scheme enables prescribed information sharing entities to share information with each other collaboratively to assess and manage family violence risk.
- The Child Information Sharing Scheme: This scheme enables prescribed information sharing entities to share information with each other to promote the safety and wellbeing of children. These cover sharing information in situations where family violence is suspected or established as being present.
- The MARAM framework: The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) framework underpins and guides information sharing under both of these schemes when family violence is present.
When supporting someone who has experienced family violence, it’s important you establish and maintain a relationship of trust with them. This means being as open and transparent with your client as you reasonably can.
It’s essential to be clear with your clients about the limits to your confidentiality. Information sharing and other laws can mean that relevant information may have to be shared without their consent in certain situations.
The MARAM framework and tools have been designed to help you navigate these conversations in an effective and sensitive manner.
It’s important to understand your legal obligations regarding a client’s consent before sharing their information with other services. There may be times you have no choice but to share information, particularly if there are children involved.
This will depend on whose information you are sharing (a perpetrator, third party, child or a victim survivor) and the nature of the information you want to share.
A comprehensive overview of the different consent threshold requirements that apply under information schemes can be found on the Victorian Government’s website.
Remember: Beyond the information sharing schemes, you should also be aware of other legislation which may require you to share information with other services (for example, failure to disclose and mandatory reporting laws).