Consent to share information
Gaining consent is a critical part of any process in deciding to share information. With consent you can disclose information.
Not having consent to share information
If an Family Safety Meeting (FSM) representative does not have consent from the person at risk to share information, it is important to consider what might occur should information not be disclosed.
If an agency/worker considers that the person at risk and/or their children are at risk of significant harm, then they need to disclose their concerns regarding risk and share information.
If a worker is unsure, they should first speak with their supervisor or line manager and consult the Information Sharing Guidelines.
If the worker is still unsure, they can contact the FSM Chair in the region for further clarification in relation to the risk assessment.
It is important to ask for consent. However, if a worker has serious concerns for the safety of the person at risk, or other family members, it is best practice to tell the person at risk that information may be shared, even without their consent. Workers should explain what they will share and why.
Ensuring the person at risk understands their information will be shared
Where possible, it is important that the person at risk is informed about their risk and that their information will be shared at a Family Safety Meeting.
Checklist for use when sharing information without consent
If a worker has come to the decision that a person’s case should be taken to a Family Safety Meeting but has not received consent, they must record that decision and the reasons for making it during the referral process. These are always very difficult decisions and ones where the worker may be concerned about the impact that they will have on the trust that the client has placed in them.
It is important for a worker to inform the client of the following:
- That they have serious concerns for their safety.
- That they will be recommending their case to the Family Safety Meeting (FSM).
- That they will be sharing information with the range of agencies attending the FSM.
- That they will only be sharing information that is relevant to their risk status and that would contribute to collaborative action in the reduction of that risk for them and their children; and
- Inform their client of the potential outcomes of this meeting.
Once a worker has attended an FSM they should contact the person, only if it is safe to do so, and inform them of the outcomes of the meeting and any immediate interventions.
Can telling the client increase their risk?
In some instances, telling the client that the worker is going to share the information that they are at high risk can jeopardise their safety. It is important to remember the key issue here is for the perpetrator not to be aware of any impending interventions. If the perpetrator is aware, this may result in an escalation of violence or the sabotaging of interventions or help seeking.
Record keeping in relation to information sharing
Agency workers should follow their own agency's policy and procedure in relation to recording this decision.Page last updated : 12 Jul 2022