Victoria Enacts Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2018

Thursday 12 April 2018 @ 10.32 a.m. | Legal Research

The Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2017 (Vic) (the “Bill”) was assented on 10 April 2018 and has been enacted as the Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2018 (Act No 11 of 2018) (the “Act”), with selected Parts of the Act having commenced on 11 April 2018.


The Explanatory Memorandum (the “EM”) indicates the object of the legislation (noted at Bill stage):

“… is to promote better child wellbeing and safety outcomes by enabling specified government agencies and service providers to share information that will—
  • improve early risk identification and intervention; and
  • change a risk averse culture in relation to information sharing; and
  • increase collaboration and integration between child and family services; and
  • support children's participation in services …”

According to an article in, the concept for a better information sharing framework emerged from the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, along with a number of other coronial inquests and child death inquiries. The legislation is broadly supported by all relevant groups, but debate has surrounded the extent of the information that can be shared, and whether consent is required from the children wherever possible.

Proposed Outcome of the Changes

According to the Victoria Government, the outcome of the amending legislation has three core aims:

  • to improve early risk identification and intervention;
  • to change a risk-averse culture in relation to information sharing; and to
  • increase collaboration and sharing between child and family services.

Reaction and Comment

The Hon Jenny Mikakos MLC, (Minister for Families and Children - Victoria) said the reforms were crucial, with the current information sharing guidelines being too “complex and confusing”, preventing life-saving interventions.

The Minister commented:

“These reforms will save lives – it’s as simple as that. We’re setting a benchmark for ensuring the health, safety and well-being of children by giving professionals the tools they need to keep kids safe before it’s too late.”

A Victoria Government Media Release of 13 December 2017, stated the new legislation:

“… is helping ensure no child falls between the cracks by allowing health, education and family services to share vital details of those in their care … seeks to protect vulnerable children by simplifying and improving information sharing arrangements between trusted professional entities, such as Maternal and Child Health, hospitals and schools.”

Some see the passing of the new legislation as a contentious issue with concerns it may “erode the rights of already vulnerable children”.

For example, in its submission to Government whilst at Bill stage, Jessie Taylor (President of the Human Rights Group Liberty Victoria (Victorian Council for Civil Liberties)) said the organisation supports the concept of streamlining child information sharing, but the legislation presented “goes too far”.

Ms Taylor commented at the time:

“…  While we support a system of more effective communication between professionals to achieve better and more consistent information should be for a purpose that is objectively definable … The requirement that the information must be shared for the purpose of ‘promoting well-being’ is too broad and ‘essentially useless’ … creating the risk that unnecessary or prejudicial information will be stored and accessed by other services.”

While acknowledging there will be many times when this confidential information will have to be shared without consent, Liberty Victoria argued that children should be able to give consent wherever possible.

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Vic Child Data Bill Is Passed - Liberty Victoria – Accessed 12 April 2018

Sharing Vital Information To Keep Kids Safe – Victoria Government Media Release (13 December 2017)

Vic child data bill is passed – - Accessed 12 April 2018

Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2017 (Vic) and Children Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2017 (Vic) - Supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.

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