Information sharing

Sharing information to better support Victorian children and families.

The Victorian Government has introduced new laws to make it easier for professionals to collaborate with each other, and better support the children and families they are working with:

  • The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS), which enables information to be shared to promote the wellbeing or safety of a child;
  • The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS), which enables information to be shared to assess or manage family violence risk.

Often there is a significant overlap between these issues, so the new legislative schemes are designed to work together to support professionals to respond to families and children in a holistic way.

These reforms aim to streamline information sharing arrangements by promoting a shared responsibility for child wellbeing and safety and family violence and enabling increased collaboration and better risk assessment and management across the service system.

The schemes are being rolled out in alignment with the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework. The MARAM provides a risk assessment and management lens to support and guide professional decision making in relation to the information sharing schemes.  

For more information on the information sharing schemes, see Information sharing schemes and the MARAM framework page on the Vic.Gov website.

  • What will the reforms change?

    We know that Victoria's information sharing legislation has, in the past, prevented professionals from collaborating to support children and families. We also know there is a risk-averse culture where individual privacy and confidentiality is sometimes prioritised over the safety and wellbeing of children and victim-survivors of family violence.

    The information sharing reforms help to remove these barriers, and support earlier intervention, by allowing information to be shared between prescribed organisations and services for clear purposes:

    1. To promote children's wellbeing or safety, and/or
    2. To assess and manage family violence risk.

    While information can be shared for these purposes without consent where children are involved, organisations and services should continue to engage with their clients – including children and young people – and involve them in decision-making wherever appropriate, safe and reasonable to do so.  Under the schemes, information can be shared between prescribed organisations proactively. If a prescribed organisation receives a request for information from another prescribed organisation that meets the requirements of the legislation, they must provide the information requested.

    The schemes complement and add to existing information sharing permissions, and do not affect current reporting obligations to child protection or police.

    Information sharing should also be guided by relevant professional practice frameworks, for example, the children's Best Interests Framework. The MARAM should guide information sharing in a family violence context.

    For more information, see Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework.

  • Organisations and services who can share information under the reforms

    Organisations and services are being prescribed in phases under the reforms. Organisations and services that can use the information sharing schemes are known as Information Sharing Entities (ISEs). Currently, ISEs include:

    • Alcohol and other drug services
    • Care Services (Out-of-Home Care)
    • Child Protection
    • Commission for Children and Young People
    • Designated Mental Health Services
    • DHHS Housing staff
    • Disability Services Commissioner
    • Homelessness services (that provide access point, outreach or accommodation services)
    • Justice Health and funded programs (for children)
    • Maternal and Child Health Services
    • Multi-Agency Panels to Prevent Youth Offending
    • Perpetrator Intervention Trials
    • Registered Community-based Child and Family Services (including ChildFIRST)
    • Risk Assessment and Management Panels
    • Sexual Assault Services
    • Sexually Abusive Behaviour Treatment Services
    • Specialist Family Violence Services
    • The Orange Door
    • Victims Assistance Program-funded services
    • Victoria Police
    • Victims of Crime Helpline
      • Youth Parole Board (Secretariat)

    A list of prescribed organisations and services is available from the About information sharing and the MARAM reforms page on the Vic.Gov website.

    In 2020, additional organisations are likely to be prescribed under the schemes, including universal services such as hospitals and schools (Phase 2). For additional information, including information about the consultation process for Phase 2, see Consultation on information sharing and MARAM page on the Vic.Gov website.

  • Training and support available

    The department's Information Sharing and MARAM Reform team can provide further information and guidance. 

    An eLearning package on the Child and Family Violence Information Sharing Schemes is currently being developed and will be available in early 2020.

    Further information and resources are available on the Victorian Government's information sharing website.

How information can be shared with or requested from the Department

Currently the department's Child Protection and Housing areas are prescribed under the information sharing schemes.

Prescribed organisations and services can request information from, or share information with, the department relating to Child Protection or Housing. This can be done at a local level – for example, with a department case worker or housing officer currently involved with a child or family.

If you have concerns that a child is at risk of significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect, please make a report to Child Protection intake service covering the local government area where the child normally lives. For more information about making a report see Child Protection contacts  on our Services website.

To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child outside of normal business hours, you should contact the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service on 13 12 78.

To report concerns that are life threatening, call Victoria Police 000.

In circumstances where the existing worker is unknown, or if the information is historical or relates to a closed Child Protection case, prescribed organisations can email Department's Information Sharing Unit or phone 1300 090 979.