What information can be shared?
ISEs, including GPs and PNs, might be requested to share information under the FVISS or CISS. For the requirements of the scheme to be met, the request must be from an ISE for family violence risk assessment and management, including about perpetrator behaviour, and/or to promote a child’s wellbeing or safety.
Because GPs and PNs are ISEs under the FVISS and CISS, they can:
- make a request for information to other ISEs in the context of family violence risk and for the wellbeing or safety of children
- disclose information to other ISEs on request if the requirements of the scheme are met
- disclose information voluntarily and proactively to other ISEs if sharing meets requirements under the schemes, including:
- an adult victim survivor is at serious imminent risk
- an adult victim survivor gives permission to share information to assess and/or manage family violence risk
- concern about the behaviour of the individual using family violence – no permission is needed from the individual using violence
- concern about a child as a victim survivor of family violence or a child’s wellbeing or safety – no permission is needed.
Responding to information-sharing requests
If a request is received, GPs and PNs must first verify that the request is being received from an ISE or RAE. If the request is by phone, this might involve calling the direct number of the service or organisation that is making the request, and then asking to speak to the practitioner or worker making the request. Alternatively, asking for an email from the requester’s verified work email account will assist in confirming their identity. You should not use a person’s personal email to share information. Requests should be recorded in the patient’s chart, along with what information has been shared. Please note that care needs to be taken with recording information in the perpetrator’s file, to ensure there is no inadvertent alerting to the perpetrator that you are sharing information if there is a request for access to files.
Once confirmation of origin of request has been made, consent requirements should then be considered. When sharing information about family violence under the FVISS, risk consent is not required to share information about perpetrators with other ISEs. As outlined in the section in this resource on consent to share information, consent is also not required to share information about any person when assessing or managing a family violence risk to a child. However, consent is required when sharing information about an adult victim survivor in other circumstances, unless the doctor believes that sharing information is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to an individual’s life, health, safety or welfare. Consent can be verbal or in writing. Verbal consent should be clearly documented in the notes. It is important that, when obtaining consent, the victim survivor fully understands what they are consenting to.
The process that should be followed if a request for information sharing is received is outlined in the flow chart (Figure 3).
This flow chart should be followed if an information request is received under the FVISS.
Figure 3. Process if a request for information is made under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme
Adapted with permission from Barwon Health information-sharing module.
FV, family violence; ISE, information sharing entity; RAE, risk-assessment entity.
Excluded information includes information that could endanger a person’s life or physical safety, or contravene a court order or law that prohibits the disclosure of the information. You must not share information where, to your knowledge, the information is excluded under the schemes.
Further information can be sought from:
Information Sharing and MARAM Enquiry Line
1800 549 646 (available 10.00 am–2.00 pm Monday to Friday)
Remember, information can still be shared with services that are not ISEs under privacy law with consent or where necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat.
Proactive sharing information under the FVISS
ISEs might voluntarily share information without a request to an RAE to assist them with establishing and assessing family violence risk. They might also voluntarily share information with another ISE for ongoing risk assessment and management. In both cases, the information must not be information that is excluded under the schemes, and the consent requirements are the same as for information requests (see ‘Responding to information-sharing requests’).
If a victim survivor is deemed to be at serious and/or immediate risk of harm during an assessment with a GP or PN (see Safety and risk assessment in Chapter 3 of The White Book), then consent should be sought to discuss the case with a family violence specialist service or organisation and/or police.
If the victim survivor is at serious risk and requires immediate protection, but does not consent, information can be shared with a specialist family violence organisation or the police to keep the victim survivor safe. It is advisable to let the victim survivor know that this information is being shared so they can organise safety planning for themselves and their children, if relevant.
All information shared should be clearly documented in the patient file, along with who the information has been shared with. Again, care needs to be taken with documentation in perpetrator files if the perpetrator is not the source of the information.
Proactive sharing information under the CISS
Under the CISS, information can be shared proactively if it is believed that the information could assist the service to undertake one of the activities in Part 2 of the CISS threshold test for sharing.
Requesting information from an ISE
Under the FVISS, GPs and PNs are permitted to request information from other ISEs for family violence protection purposes to assist with assessing or managing the risks within their practice expectations, and under the CISS for child wellbeing and safety purposes. Requests can be made verbally or in writing, and the purpose of your request to the ISE should be made clear.
Requests for information from other ISEs should also include:
- name, title of the person making the request, occupation and organisation
- the level of risk (at risk, elevated risk, serous risk/and requires immediate protection)
- purpose of the request
- identifying details of the person/s subject of the request (eg name, date of birth, address)
- whether the request pertains to adult or child victim survivors or the individual using violence.
It is important to confirm you are speaking to someone who is authorised to provide information under the FVISS or CISS, and clearly document the name of the person providing the information and the service for which they work. All information gained through this conversation should also be documented. Be careful to ensure that all information discussed relates to reducing the risk of victim survivors, and do not overshare information.