To provide guidance to child protection workers making decisions on whether and/or how to disclose information regarding a person responsible (PR) or person assessed as causing significant harm (ASH) to a child or family, or to an employer where the person assessed may pose a risk of significant harm to specific child/ren.
Where the Department has concerns for the safety and wellbeing of specific children, child protection workers may need to consider to disclosing relevant information to a corresponding authority or an interested person (possibly family, employer or service agency) under s.23(1) and (2), where it is determined that there is ongoing risk to a child by a person responsible (PR) or a person assessed as causing significant harm (ASH).
Under s.23 (1) relevant information may only be provided to a public authority, a Commonwealth agency, a corresponding authority, a non-government provider, or an interested person or body who or which, in the CEO’s opinion, is seen to have a direct interest in the wellbeing of a child, a class or group of children, or a person who qualifies for assistance under s.96 - a person under 25 years of age who has left the CEO’s care and was the subject of:
Relevant information may be disclosed to those people or agencies who need the information to secure the protection of a child, group or class of children, for example:
This is an extremely sensitive area of practice and all decisions must be informed by an assessment of continuing risk to specific child/ren by a PR or ASH. For detailed information refer to Assessment of Continuing Risk to Specific Children by a Person of Concern in related resources.
Refer to Chapter 4.2: Information sharing between commonwealth agencies and the Department of Communities to access the Commonwealth and Child Protection Agencies Information Sharing Protocols (the Protocols) with Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support Agency. The Protocols set out the procedures for requesting information from Commonwealth agencies, specify the type of information that can be requested and what supporting evidence is required, and provide time frames for responding to requests.
An interim safety plan must be develoed where a PR or ASH has contact with specific children, and it will take a period of time to conduct an assessment of continuing risk to the children by the person of concern. The interim safety plan should involve the children and persons with parental responsibility.
Where releasing information about the person of concern is necessary to keep a child safe, we must inform the person assessed as responsibleof our intention to release the information. This action must be approved by the district director.
When undertaking a safety assessment, the information about the person assessed as responsible is normally regarded as confidential. Ideally, the Department should obtain the person's consent to release of the information. Where consent is not given child protection workers should refer to Ensuring Immediate Safety - Disclosure of Information regarding a PR or ASH in related resources.
Child protection workers must advise the PR or ASH of the outcome of the assessment of continuing risk to specific children, and any decision to disclose information.
Where the PR or ASH refuses to communicate with Department officers, evidence of the reasonable efforts taken to contact the person must be documented.
The implementation of a decision to release information to a third party must be planned and managed. The PR or ASH must be informed that information will be released, and given the opportunity to:
Wherever possible there should be a discussion with the PR or ASH on how the third party will be informed of the decision, with the following options to be considered:
When the PR/ASH does not consent to information being released:
Once appropriate approvals have been obtained, implementation of the safety assessment and planning may proceed.
If, after completing an assessment of continuing risk to specific children by a person of concern, the child protection worker forms the opinion that the person continues to pose a risk to specific children he or she must:
Where a decision is made to disclose information to an 'interested person' who is an employer of the person of concern under s.23(1), the district director must refer the matter to the Director, Business Support and Coordination. The following process will apply: