New information sharing guidance from 1 July 2019

Image: rawpixel.com from Pexels

New guidance on information sharing under the Family Violence Act 2018 and Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989) has been published by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki.

New provisions on information sharing in these pieces of legislation come into force on 1 July 2019.

Key messages on how the information sharing provisions in the two Acts work together states:

"The Family Violence Act 2018:

  • introduces new laws that allow information to be shared to identify, stop, prevent and otherwise respond to family violence
  • applies to the family violence sector

The Oranga Tamariki Act 1989:

  • amends the existing information sharing provisions to allow information to be shared for the safety and wellbeing of tamariki
  • applies to the child welfare and protection sector

Both Acts:

  • apply to many of the same agencies and people, including schools, early childhood services, health professionals, social workers, some non-government organisations, Police and other government departments
  • are designed to encourage agencies and people to voluntarily share information, and work collaboratively
  • are about ensuring information that is relevant is shared appropriately, and for the right purposes
  • mean people are generally protected from civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings as long as information is shared in good faith, and they comply with the relevant information sharing provisions."

Further detail on the information sharing provisions of each Act is provided below.

Family Violence Act 2018

Under the new law, two groups of people will be able to collect, use, request and share personal information for purposes related to family violence: "family violence agencies" and "social services practitioners."

"Family violence agencies" include:

  • Specified government agencies (ACC, Department of Corrections, Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Social Development, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Police, Oranga Tamariki, Housing New Zealand Corporation)
  • District Health Boards
  • Registered Community Housing Providers
  • Non-government organisation that are partly or wholly funded by government and that provides family violence services
  • School boards
  • Licensed early childhood services

"Social services practitioners" include:

  • Teachers with current practising certificates or limited authority to teach
  • Registered health professionals
  • Registered social workers

The operational guidance for people covered by the provisions is based on the following eight principles:

  • "People’s safety comes first
  • You should obtain consent to share information when it’s safe to do so
  • You must consider sharing information if you think it will protect a victim or if you receive a request
  • You can share information for specific purposes
  • You must only share relevant information
  • You should check that the information is accurate
  • You should record reasons for your decisions
  • You have legal protection from liability when you share information, unless you share in bad faith"

More detailed guidance is available in Sharing information safely: Guidance on sharing personal information under the Family Violence Act 2018 (Ministry of Justice, 2019).

The Ministry of Justice has also published the following supporting documents:

  • Decision tree poster (setting out the information sharing process step-by-step)
  • One page factsheet

The information sharing provisions are found in Part 2 of the Family Violence Act.

The workforce is welcome to contact the Ministry of Justice with questions, additional tools people may need to support effective practice and the implementation of the law, and ideas on how the family violence information sharing guidance can be improved: contact FVinformationsharing@justice.govt.nz

If you have questions about the family violence or Oranga Tamariki information sharing guidance, from 1 July 2019 you will also be able to contact the joint helpline on 0508 INFOSH (463 674). This helpline is to assist agencies and practitioners in using the guidance documents and applying the new laws. Confidential information and reports of concern should not be disclosed to this helpline.

Information sharing under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Also on 1 July 1 2019, changes to section 66 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989) include new provisions.

The information sharing provisions are much broader than previously. They give child welfare and protection agencies the ability to request, collect, use, and share personal information for purposes related to the wellbeing and safety of tamariki.

Guidance on how to apply the new provisions has been published by Oranga Tamariki. This outlines:

  • "what’s different with the new provisions
  • who the provisions apply to
  • the purposes for which information can be shared
  • what information can be shared
  • what you need to do if you’re sharing information
  • what you can expect from Oranga Tamariki when you share information with us, and
  • a summary of how the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, the Family Violence Act 2018 and the Privacy Act 1993 work together."

The guidance is available in Information sharing to support tamariki wellbeing and safety: Guidance for sharing information across the child welfare and protection sector (Oranga Tamariki, 2019).

Oranga Tamariki has also published the following supporting documents:

  • Flowchart with steps to following when thinking about sharing information under section 66C
  • One page fact sheet.

Oranga Tamariki consulted with agencies and individuals from the child welfare and protection sector in developing the guidance. It also sought the views of some children and tamariki on what people should think about when sharing information about them.

If you have any questions about the guidance or how it relates to your practice, email: infosharinghelpline@ot.govt.nz 

If you have questions about the Oranga Tamariki or family violence information sharing guidance, from 1 July 2019 you will also be able to contact the joint helpline on 0508 INFOSH (463 674). This helpline is to assist agencies and practitioners in using the guidance documents and applying the new laws. Confidential information and reports of concern should not be disclosed to this helpline.

How the documents work together

The following information has been provided on how the the two Acts work together and which to use:

Information sharing under the Family Violence Act 2018 and Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (Ministry of Justice, 2019)

Background information

See these previous news stories:

Consultation on information sharing guidance for family violence sector

Related information

See our news story on an overview of other changes coming into effect on 1 July 2019 under the Family Violence Act 2018 and other legislation.