Consultation on information sharing guidance for family violence sector

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The Ministry of Justice is seeking feedback on draft information sharing guidance for the family violence sector.

Submissions close on 5 September 2018

Update: The deadline to submit feedback has been extended to 21 September 2018.

The Ministry of Justice has developed the guidance to make it clearer when, how and why information can be shared under the law when the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill passes and comes into force. The Bill proposes to create new rules for family violence agencies (specific government and non-government agencies defined in the Bill) and specific social services practitioners around sharing information. MOJ summarises:

"The Bill will:

  • permit the family violence sector to collect, use and disclose information for limited purposes
  • require the sector to consider sharing information if it may help protect a victim, or if they receive a request for information
  • provide immunity from legal liability and professional disciplinary processes for sharing information in accordance with the Bill, unless sharing was done in bad faith."

Feedback is invited on three documents:

  • Draft guidance - a 45 page 'how-to' guide on managing and sharing information
  • A3 poster - an overview of information management
  • One-page overview - brief outline of the new information sharing provisions in the Bill

The Ministry of Justice is seeking feedback on whether this guidance meets the following objectives:

"We want to produce guidance that provides the family violence sector with certainty around when, how and why information can be shared under law. It needs to be understandable, easy to navigate quickly and workable for the day-to-day decisions made by people in the family violence sector. It should drive the right behaviours, building consent in as a first step while facilitating more consistent information sharing practices. The guidance must meet the needs of victims, families and whānau."

You can give feedback online or email FVinformationsharing@justice.govt.nz.

The final guidance is expected to be released when the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill is enacted.

Background information

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced in March 2017. The Justice and Electoral Committee completed its report on the Bill in August 2017 (prior to the change of government), recommending that the bill be passed with amendments. The Bill is currently awaiting its second reading. For more information about the planned legislative changes, see the Ministry of Justice website on Safer Sooner: Strengthening family violence laws.

Related research and resources

In Victoria, Australia, guidelines have recently been developed on family violence Information Sharing and Risk Management. The Victorian guidelines:

  • Provide that consent is required to share relevant information about an adult victim/survivor, unless an agency reasonably believes that sharing information is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to an individual’s life, health, safety or welfare
  • State that the information sharing scheme prioritises a child's safety over any individual's privacy, and victim/survivor safety over perpetrator privacy
  • Include model conversations for obtaining consent from an adult victim/survivor, and model conversations with a child victim/survivor of family violence or parent who is not a perpetrator
  • Provide information sharing consent forms for adult victim/survivors, and a 'Your Information and Your Safety Fact Sheet' for adult victim/survivors

In New Zealand, the report Understanding the Impact of the Family Violence Interagency Response System (FVIARS) on Women’s Refuge Clients: An Exploratory Study (Roguski, 2012) includes victim/survivors' views on information sharing.

The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017 introduced new provisions on sharing information about children and young people.

Other information sharing guidance includes:

Office of the Privacy Commissioner (2016)
Sharing personal information of families and vulnerable children: A guide for inter-disciplinary groups
Wellington: Office of the Privacy Commissioner.