Prescribed Victorian practitioners who come across people experiencing family violence are required to actively share risk information with and request it from other professionals. This is guided by appropriate information sharing legislation.
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.
There are two interrelated pieces of Victorian legislation that you should be aware of – the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the Child Information Sharing Scheme.
Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme
The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) authorises prescribed Risk Assessment Entities (RAEs) and Information Sharing Entities (ISEs) to share information for a family violence assessment or family violence protection purpose.
Child Information Sharing Scheme
The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) enables prescribed RAEs and ISEs to share information with each other to promote the safety and wellbeing of children.
Information sharing in practice
It is essential to know whether and how your program is prescribed under either scheme and to verify the same for prescribed organisations you share information with. In the context of family violence, both FVISS and CISS must be used in conjunction with the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework. The MARAM Framework underpins and guides information sharing under both schemes when family violence is present. Read the Ministerial guidelines for these schemes.
Organisations that are funded to provide specialist family violence services are prescribed with information sharing responsibilities under both schemes and must refer to the guidelines to appropriately share information and meet their legal obligations.
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, which may include the level of risk or if there are children involved.
Under the FVISS, consent requirements will also depend on whose information you are sharing (a perpetrator, an alleged perpetrator, a third party, a child or an adult victim survivor).
A comprehensive overview of the different consent threshold requirements that apply under information schemes can be found on the Victorian Government’s website. These should be consulted directly to support you in making decisions.
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).