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Information sharing for service coordination

Information sharing is a key part of collaboration. Organisations can make informed decisions about how services can best meet a family’s needs.

Your information sharing practice

Ethical information sharing

Human rights, for both adults and children, are based on principles of dignity, equality, and mutual respect.

For information sharing this means:

  • Being clear, transparent and honest with families about the information we are seeking and why, including children who are old enough to understand.
  • Talking to families about information we have received, and giving them an opportunity to talk about their own perspective.
  • Understanding that safety, for both adults and children, is paramount. If talking to families about information sharing places someone at risk, you should not do it.

One of the core components of working with families is building trust and safety in relationships; this is also part of a trauma-informed approach. For information sharing, this particularly applies to issues of consent.

When considering whether to ask for consent, think about whether the information sharing is necessary to the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child. What could the consequences be if you don’t share information? If you ask for consent, and the family decline, what position does that put you in?

Asking for consent, where possible, promotes partnership. It will not be appropriate to seek consent in every situation, particularly if the information is critical to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child. If this is the case, giving families clear and transparent information about your decision to share information is preferable to seeking consent.

Information sharing to reduce risk

Effective information sharing helps make children safer. To be effective, we need to use the information we have shared to drive actions, conversations, coordination and support for children and families.

Effective information sharing:

  • Is purposeful and constructive. You need a clear rationale that includes a plan for how you will use the information to benefit a child or family.
  • Is timely. If you think you have information important to a child or young person’s safety or effective service delivery, share it quickly.
  • Is meaningful. If your role with a family is short term, think about how you can leverage information sharing by making a referral, or passing important information on to other engaged services.
  • Is accountable. Make clear records about your decisions to share information.

It is important not to over rely on information generated within your own agency, or under rely on information from other agencies. Be prepared to challenge your assumptions and work with other agencies to build a complete picture.

Meet Robyn, Matthew and Chelsea

Robyn and her son Matthew were working with lots of services who were not talking to each other. Their story illustrates how sharing small pieces of information can drastically improve service delivery.

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Last updated: 03 May 2021