Sharing information is a key part of ensuring that vulnerable children are protected and supported. All community members and professionals can and should offer support and resources to a family and share information about a family to enable a referral to a support service with the family’s consent.
Some professionals from particular entities prescribed under section 159M of the Child Protection Act 1999 may share information with support services, including Family and Child Connect, without the family’s consent. This is so that help and support can be offered to the family before their problems escalate. It can only be done when the professional holds concerns that do not meet the threshold for a report to Child Safety, but they consider that the child is likely to become a child in need of protection if no preventive support is given. Examples of a prescribed entities include all public and some private health services, Queensland Police Service, the Public Guardian, all public and most independent schools. People working within the Early Child and Education and Care sector do not work for a prescribed entity and must have consent before sharing information and referring families to a support service.
Jim is a Principal. He has concerns that do not meet the threshold for a report to Child Safety, and considers that the child is likely to become in need of protection if no preventative support is given. He is allowed to share relevant information with support services without the family’s consent so that help and support can be offered to the family before their problems escalate.
It is important to note that in some situations information about an unborn child can only be shared with the consent of the pregnant woman. Jackie is a regional intake service officer. She has received concerns about the safety of a pregnant women and her unborn child. Even though she is a professional from a particular prescribed entity, she cannot share information about the unborn child with a support service without the mother’s consent.
In circumstances where information is shared with a support service without consent, the support service may make contact with the family to discuss their needs and offer them support. The family must give consent for any further information sharing to occur after this point. Joshua works for a Family and Child Connect service. A professional from a particular prescribed entity has referred a family to the service without their consent. He makes contact with the family to discuss their needs and offer them support. Family and Child Connect services are not prescribed entities, and so, before any further information sharing can occur to connect the family with the right services, he needs to get the family’s consent.
Professionals or other people who hold concerns about a child or family but are not from a particular prescribed entity are not authorised to share information without family consent. These individuals should continue to discuss their concerns with the family and encourage them to provide their consent for a referral or provide information and resources to the family so that they can seek support themselves when they are ready. James is an early childhood worker. He has concerns about a family, but he cannot get consent to share their information with other support services. He provides resources to the family so they can seek support when they are ready and continues to discuss his concerns with the family and encourages them to provide consent for a referral.
Information sharing, a key part of ensuring that vulnerable children are protected and supported.