Child protection privacy and information sharing (2023)

As a school staff member you are permitted to share certain information about a child who has been impacted by abuse. This page provides guidance on the specific information sharing requirements.

Sharing information to support child wellbeing and safety

The Victorian Government is progressing information sharing and family violence reforms to improve the wellbeing and safety of Victorian children and reduce family violence.

From Term 2 2021, the Child Information Sharing Scheme, the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the Family violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework expandedto include a range of Victorian education and care workforces.

Many organisations already work together to do this and many Victorian education and care workforces will become part of a system of sharing, requesting and using information about child wellbeing or safety.

It will allow professionals working with children to gain a complete view of the children they work with, making it easier to identify wellbeing or safety needs earlier, and to act on them sooner.

A range of resources are available to ensure that Victorian education and care workforces have the knowledge and information needed to work consistently and collaboratively to identify and respond to child wellbeing and safety needs.

Resources to support sharing information

The following resourcesare intended to help organisations prepare their workplaces for implementation and provide guidance on how to share information confidently, safely and appropriately under these new reforms to improve children’s wellbeing and safety. They have been designedfor:

  • centre-based education and care services
  • government, Catholic and independent schools
  • system and statutory bodies
  • education health, wellbeing and inclusion workforces.

Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms

These resources complement the delivery of 'Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms' briefings and online modules for education and care workforces. They should be adapted and used as appropriate in alignment with existing organisational requirements and procedures.

  • Child protection privacy and information sharing (1) Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms Contextualised Guidance (PDF, 1.47MB)
  • Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms Contextualised Guidance (DOCX, 1MB)
  • Child protection privacy and information sharing (4) Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms Toolkit (PDF, 300KB)
  • Information Sharing and Family Violence Reforms Toolkit (DOCX, 99KB)

For more information on training, resources and guidance, visit the Information Sharing and MARAM website

Information sharing with school staff

Privacy laws allow school staff to share a child’s personal and health information to enable other school staff to:

(Video) Child Protection - Information Sharing Programme: How it Works

  • support the education of the student, plan for individual needs and address any barriers to learning
  • support the social and emotional wellbeing and health of the student
  • fulfil duty of care obligations to the student, other students, staff and visitors
  • make reasonable adjustments if the student has a disability, including a medical condition or mental illness
  • provide a safe and secure workplace.

Therefore as a school staff member you are permitted to share certain information about a child with other staff members, without the consent of a parent or guardian and without breaching privacy laws.

What kinds of information can be shared?

The type of information that may be appropriate to share with other school staff about a child who is impacted, or suspected to be impacted by child abuse may include:

  • that the child is in a difficult situation
  • that the child should be monitored and may need support
  • the content of any Student Support Plan, including any signs or symptoms that the child may display when they are in need of support, and any strategies or support services that have been put in place to support the child while they at school.

Information sharing with DFFH and Victoria Police

As a school staff member, privacy legislation permits you to disclose personal information about a child to Department Families Fairness and Housing (DFFH)Child Protection if:

  • it is authorised or permitted by law
  • or if it is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious and imminent risk to health, safety or welfare of any person.

Reporting suspected child abuse to DFFH Child Protection or Victoria Police does not constitute a breach of Victorian privacy laws because these disclosures are specifically permitted under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

Disclosure of information to DFFH Child Protection in good faith does not constitute unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional ethics. This means that you cannot be successfully sued or suffer formal adverse consequences in your work.

If you've made a report or referral your identity will be protected, unless you consent to its disclosure or the disclosure is specifically authorised by a Court or Tribunal.

Request of information from DFFH Child Protection or Victoria Police

If you receive a request from an officer from DFFH Child Protection or Victoria Police for information relating to a child who has been impacted (or is suspected to have been impacted) by child abuse, you should:

  • obtain the request for information in writing
  • ensure that the written request includes the following information:
    • the name of the officer, the organisation in which they work, and their contact details
    • description of the information and documents that are being sought
    • the reasons why the information and documents are being sought
    • what authority the person or their organisation believes that they have to access the requested information and documents.

In these cases, you may be permitted to share the requested information and documents but you are not compelled to do so.

For further information, refer to our policy onrequests for information about students.

(Video) Online Privacy for Kids - Internet Safety and Security for Kids

Information sharing with family services

Once Family Services (or other service agency) commences providing services to a child and their family, as a school staff member you can only share information with this agency with the consent of the child's parents (and the child if they are old enough to consent).

This is because service provision in these circumstances is by voluntary agreement between the family and the service provider.

Family Services are allowed to consult with DFFH Child Protection at any time, if necessary.

Information sharing with school community

Planning and care should be taken before providing any information about child abuse to the school community. You and your principal should be aware that that even confirming the existence of an allegation can lead to the identification of a victim.

Further guidance for principals

Principals who are uncertain about how to respond to a particular request for information and documentation can contact the followingsupport services for guidance.​

Government schools

Government school principals who are unsure when information can be sharedcan contact the department's Legal Division for advice and assistance on (03) 9637 3146.

Catholic schools

Catholic school principals can contact:

  • Archdiocese of Melbourne - Student Wellbeing Information Line: (03) 9267 0228
  • Diocese of Sale -Child Protection Officer: (03) 5622 6600
  • Diocese of Ballarat -Child Safety: (03) 5337 7135
  • Diocese of Sandhurst -Assistant to the Director of Legal, Industrialand Human Resources: (03) 5443 2377.

Policy onrequests for information about students

Requests for information about students Available in the Policy and Advisory Library

Resourcesforidentifying and responding to all forms of abuse in Victorian Schools

Video: protecting children and young people from abuse is our responsibility

The information in this video has been taken from the PROTECT guide: Identifying and responding to all forms of abuse in Victorian Schools.

Unfortunately this video doesn't include audio captions, but we're working on producing an accessible version for 2022.

Read video transcript

Willa: Hi again, and welcome to this section, where we’ll explore information sharing and privacy.

(Video) The 700 Club - October 17, 2022

Dane: That’s great. I’ve got some questions about what information I can share with who. I know there are privacy laws about what can and can’t be shared.

Willa: That’s right Dane, there are. But as a school staff members we are permitted to share certain information about a child who we suspected has been abused. And we can do this without breaching any privacy laws.

Dane: So who can we share information with?

Willa: Well it really comes down to the best interests of the child. So we can share information with:

  • other staff members in order to enable staff to best support and protect that child
  • an officer from DHHS Child Protection, if the information may assist them in their investigation of protective concerns, and
  • Victoria Police if the information may assist in the investigation of potential criminal offences, or may aid in the immediate protection and safety of the child.

Dane: That all makes sense. So, if I was sharing information with you to help you support a student that we both had contact with, I could let you know that the student is in a difficult situation and they may need support.

Willa: Definitely. You could also share with me the content of any Student Support Plan.

Dane: Great, what about if a community service agency who is working with the family approaches me for information?

Willa: You’d have to seek consent from the family before sharing anything with a community service provider.

You also have to remember to be really careful about what information is shared with the school community. Even confirming that there has been a report or suspicion can lead to the identification of a child and their family.

We’d leave any communication with the school community up to Principal Dixon.

(Video) Protect your Kids at School: Opt Them Out of Information Sharing

Dane: Good advice Willa. Thank you for answering all of my questions. And if I need more advice I’ll have a read through the content on website and download a copy of the Four Critical Actions to display in the staff room.

(Video) Private and Personal Information

Download the PROTECT guide

  • Identifying and responding to all forms of abuse in Victorian schools (PDF, 2.9MB)
  • Identifying and responding to all forms of abuse in Victorian schools (DOCX, 207KB)

FAQs

When can information be shared in relation to safeguarding? ›

Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case.

Why is it important to ensure privacy of the child and family? ›

Confidentiality is a legal protection and assurance of families' right to privacy. > Practicing confidentiality assures the safety of children and families. It creates and maintains a reputation of high quality standards for the professional and the child care program.

What does confidentiality mean when working with children? ›

in Child Care Settings. What is confidential information? Confidential information is personal details from our lives which we may not want to share with others. It can include our address, phone number, birth date, employment history or other personal information.

Is the privacy of children protected on the Internet? ›

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a federal law that imposes specific requirements on operators of websites and online services to protect the privacy of children under 13. The Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1998 and took effect in April 2000.

What does the Children Act 2004 say about information sharing? ›

The statutory guidance on Section10 of the Children Act 2004 makes it clear that effective information sharing supports the duty to cooperate to improve the well-being of children.

Why is information sharing important in safeguarding? ›

Why is information sharing guidance important? Because child protection and safeguarding involves sensitive information that directly affects the welfare of children and young people. To keep these children safe, information needs to be shared appropriately so that decisions can be made to protect them.

How can we protect children's privacy? ›

See our tips to help you and your children protect their privacy when they interact online.
  1. Start the privacy conversation. ...
  2. Discuss their digital footprint. ...
  3. Develop good password practices and use strong passphrases. ...
  4. Encourage safe and smart device use. ...
  5. Tailor privacy settings and review them regularly.

Why is sharing information important for a child? ›

Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults. The decisions about how much information to share, with whom and when, can have a profound impact on individuals' lives. It could ensure that an individual receives the right services at the right time.

What is the right to privacy for children? ›

It states: 1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. 2.

What are the 5 confidentiality rules? ›

Dos of confidentiality
  • Ask for consent to share information.
  • Consider safeguarding when sharing information.
  • Be aware of the information you have and whether it is confidential.
  • Keep records whenever you share confidential information.
  • Be up to date on the laws and rules surrounding confidentiality.
Sep 9, 2020

How do you maintain privacy and confidentiality in childcare? ›

Keep written information in a safe place.

Personal information should not be left laying around for other parents or staff members to see. Keep information about the children in a safe place out of the way of prying eyes. Some information (such as social security numbers) should be in a locked file cabinet or office.

How do you maintain confidentiality when sharing information? ›

Ask for consent to share information unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. Information can be shared without consent if it is justified in the public interest or required by law. Do not delay disclosing information to obtain consent if that might put children or young people at risk of significant harm.

Do children have the right to privacy and confidentiality even from parents? ›

The protection of privacy of children is a very broad provision. It reads as follows: “Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes”.

Can someone post pictures of my child without my permission? ›

Basically, with a few exceptions, it is actually perfectly legal for strangers to photograph or videotape your child, and they are free to post or publish the images as well. Contrary to what many parents believe, they do not need to give their consent or sign a release.

Can parents violate your privacy? ›

For example, the parents often violate the privacy of their adult children by entering bedrooms without knocking, attempting to overhear telephone conversations, asking personal questions, opening personal mail, infringing on personal time, giving unsolicited advice, and going through personal possessions.

What is Section 47 of the children's Act? ›

Under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that a child (who lives or is found in their area) is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, it has a duty to make such enquiries as it considers necessary to decide whether to take any action to safeguard or ...

What is Section 10 of the children's Act 2004? ›

Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority to make arrangements to promote cooperation between the authority, each of the authority's relevant partners and such other persons or bodies working with children in the local authority's area as the authority considers appropriate.

What legislation covers confidentiality and sharing information? ›

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016 regulates the use of this information ('data') to balance the individual's right to confidentiality and an organisation's need to use it. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016 replaces the Data Protection Act 1998.

What are 3 benefits of sharing information? ›

7 benefits of sharing knowledge at work
  • Collaborate and build collective knowledge.
  • Find better ways of doing things.
  • Build a community and learning culture.
  • Create better customer experiences.
  • Retain knowledge.
  • Connect remote employees to knowledge.
  • The feel-good factor.
Aug 21, 2020

What is the importance of information sharing? ›

Information sharing allows for innovation and efficiency, avoiding duplication and allowing new ideas to emerge. By empowering employees to make the knowledge they have available to others and make the content they create easy to find later, everyone benefits.

What is an information sharing agreement in safeguarding? ›

The Information Sharing Agreement recognises that the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (together, the “Data Protection Legislation”) are not barriers to justified information sharing but rather ensure that information sharing is necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, ...

When should information be shared? ›

Ask for consent to share information unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. Information can be shared without consent if it is justified in the public interest or required by law. Do not delay disclosing information to obtain consent if that might put children or young people at risk of significant harm.

When should we share confidential information in care? ›

Rule 2. “Members of a care team should share confidential information when it is needed, for the safe and effective care of an individual.” You need to make sure that the right information is shared with a person's care team.

When can you disclose confidential information? ›

You may only disclose confidential information in the public interest without the patient's consent, or if consent has been withheld, where the benefits to an individual or society of disclosing outweigh the public and patient's interest in keeping the information confidential.

When should information be shared in health and social care? ›

The Health and Social (Safety and Quality) Act 2015, which came into effect on 1st October 2015 sets a duty for information to be shared where it facilitates care for an individual and it is legal to do so. This sharing requires the patient to be informed and provide them with an opportunity to object.

What are the 7 Steps to information sharing? ›

Necessary, Proportionate, Relevant, Adequate, Accurate, Timely and Secure. Ensure the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you share it. You should share it only with those people who need to have it, your information is accurate, up-to-date, shared in a timely fashion and also shared securely.

Why is sharing information important for a child? ›

Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults. The decisions about how much information to share, with whom and when, can have a profound impact on individuals' lives. It could ensure that an individual receives the right services at the right time.

What information should not be shared? ›

Sharing sensitive information such as your address, phone number, family members' names, car information, passwords, work history, credit status, social security numbers, birth date, school names, passport information, driver's license numbers, insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, credit/ debit card numbers, PIN ...

What are five 5 ways of maintaining confidentiality? ›

5 important ways to maintain patient confidentiality
  • Create thorough policies and confidentiality agreements. ...
  • Provide regular training. ...
  • Make sure all information is stored on secure systems. ...
  • No mobile phones. ...
  • Think about printing.
Sep 24, 2019

How do you ensure privacy and confidentiality? ›

How to Protect Client Confidentiality
  1. Use a secure file-sharing and messaging platform. ...
  2. Store Physical Documents in an Environment with Controlled Access. ...
  3. Comply with Industry Regulations (SOC-2, HIPAA, PIPEDA) ...
  4. Host Routine Security Training for Staff. ...
  5. Stay Alert of New Security Threats.

What are the 3 exceptions to confidentiality? ›

Mandatory Exceptions To Confidentiality

They include reporting child, elder and dependent adult abuse, and the so-called "duty to protect." However, there are other, lesserknown exceptions also required by law.

What information is not considered confidential? ›

Non-Confidential Information means solely such information that, and to the extent it: (i) was known publicly, or was known by the Receiving Party without obligation of confidentiality or non-disclosure, at the time such Property was provided, disclosed, or made available or accessible by the Disclosing Party to, or ...

What is considered a breach of confidential information? ›

A breach of confidentiality occurs when proprietary data or information about your company or your customers is disclosed to a third party without consent. Breaches of confidentiality happen to companies each and every day throughout the nation.

What are examples of information that can be disclosed without consent? ›

Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.

What is the information sharing policy? ›

A set of common rules binding on all the organisations involved in a data sharing initiative. It is not contractually binding but is used to set good practice standards that the parties need to meet in order to fulfil any duty of care which exists in relation to the regular/routine sharing of personal information.

What should you consider before sharing information? ›

Information Sharing Principles
  • Necessary and proportionate. When taking decisions about what information to share, you should consider how much information you need to release. ...
  • Relevant. Only information that is relevant to the purposes should be shared with those who need it. ...
  • Adequate. ...
  • Accurate. ...
  • Timely. ...
  • Secure. ...
  • Record.

Can personal data be shared without permission? ›

Does an organisation always need my consent? No. Organisations don't always need your consent to use your personal data. They can use it without consent if they have a valid reason.

Videos

1. Child Protection – Information Sharing: Tracey’s story | NHS Digital
(NHS Digital)
2. Information sharing animation
(CommunitiesQLD)
3. Protect Yourself Rules - A Friendly Stranger
(Fight Child Abuse)
4. Privacy is Not a Barrier - Sharing Information with Children's Aid Societies
(Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario)
5. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: Promising Information-Sharing Practices
(Juvenile Law Center)
6. Sharing of Information July 2019
(Emagination Training)
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