Victorian schools join child abuse information sharing scheme | #childabuse | #children | #kids

Victorian schools, kindergartens and childcare centres will soon be authorised to share and receive sensitive information about vulnerable children without parental consent, in a bid to better spot early warning signs of family violence or neglect.

On April 19, the start of term two, education workers will join the Child Information Sharing Scheme, an initiative driven by the royal commissions into family violence and institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Liana Buchanan says the scheme will save children’s lives.Credit:Justin McManus

Victorian Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan, who has pushed for greater information sharing among agencies that work with children, said the scheme would save young people’s lives.

“We see in so many of our child death inquiries a situation where different services that have contact with the child or family have bits of information that suggests a family is struggling, a child is at risk … but no single service has the full picture,” she said.

“The implications of that is that children continue to live with sustained neglect, violence or harm, and in some cases failure to share information between services has had a lethal consequence for the child.”

Hospitals, Ambulance Victoria and community health centres will also join the scheme, which is currently limited to agencies such as Victoria Police, the Department of Human Services and youth justice, sexual assault and mental health services.

The Department of Education and Training has been coaching education workers on their responsibilities under the scheme since March last year, a spokesperson said.

Advice to educators states that “consent is not required from any person to share information relevant to assessing or managing family violence risk to a child”.

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