In response to the queries and concerns raised during sector consultations, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre) hosted a Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) sector forum on the 13 August. Over 40 people attended the forum which provided an update on the CISS, Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM), which will commence on 27 September.
With guest speakers from DHHS, FSV and DET, the forum offered an important opportunity for the sector to ask questions and gain further details of the planning for rollout of the reforms. The following key themes emerged from the consultations and forum.
Key concerns raised at the forum and in sector consultations prior to the forum
- Organisations feel unprepared for and overwhelmed by the number of reforms. They are concerned about the impact on resources (including backfilling for training).
- There is a lack of clarity regarding how all the various reforms interface e.g. CIMS, Reportable Conduct, Child Safe Organisations, Failure to Protect, CISS, FVISS, MARAM. It is not clear when to use and the considerations for consent and thresholds.
- There is a lack of clarity regarding entity status.
- It is not clear how organisations with ISE and non ISE staff will be supported to best understand their obligations; concerns regarding risk exposure and compliance obligations.
- There is a lack of clear and specific information regarding expectations for implementation of the schemes, including documentation and data capture (is there a minimum data set).
- Organisations are not sure how training will be rolled out, who will be prioritised and how much notice will be provided to allow for planning
- There is a need for supporting materials regarding a common understanding of child wellbeing and thresholds. Organisations are concerned that this understanding is currently too broad and may lead to inappropriate sharing.
- Given the schemes might not be implemented for some time after training it is not clear what mechanisms will be in place for refresher training.
During the forum, DHHS, DET FSV advised the following:
Amount of reform, information and training
- DHHS, CDET ad FSV are preparing resources to better support workforces. While acknowledging the additional expectations, DHHS noted that sharing already occurs under several other information sharing instruments. There is no expectation that organisations will be ‘fully’ prepared on the 27 September. Rather these reforms as part of a culture change. DET advised that instead of attending both days pf training at the same time, staff can attend one day of training and attend for the second day at a later date. eLearning modules will become available at a later date. CISS guidelines will be available at the end of August and the Centre is also developing materials and resources.
- DHHS clarified that only state funded programs are within scope. Organisations can clarify any confusion by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. DHHS advised that some organisations have a nominated a person/small team with an information sharing function who are trained in management of the schemes. DET are currently working through a process for how organisations will determine ISE status of other agencies. Advice will be provided before 27 September commencement.
- DHHS emphasised the need for organisations to have clear systems and processes to assist staff in their understanding of their obligations, including reminding staff about their current sharing arrangements under existing legislation such as the Child Youth and Family Act and Personal Data Protection Act etc. DHHS also reminded organisations that this is a legislated requirement. Organisations could consider internal processes, such as client file audits and supervision, to monitor the appropriate use of the schemes.
Documentation and record keeping
- DHHS will provide some templates to support documentation and record keeping for use prior to the scheme commencement. DHHS advised that there are no legislative requirements for how information is shared e.g. case conferences, email, verbal etc. There are some prescriptions regarding documenting with whom information is shared (including confirming entity status), date/time, purpose of sharing, and where refusing to share, rationale.
- DHHS advised there are no legislative requirements regarding data collection/capture. However, in keeping with best practice it might be useful for organisations to consider how they can monitor use of the schemes and how this may be affecting resources. Evaluation of the schemes will occur at 2 & 5 years and will largely follow a qualitative format where organisations will be interviewed about their use of the schemes.
- DET advised that training material is being developed. Training follows a modular format. Priority workforces have been identified and will be invited to attend the initial rollout of face-to-face training. Box Hill TAFE and its partner TAFES are engaging trainers, and finalising dates and venues for delivery (rural/regional and Melbourne based). Prioritised workforces will be asked to nominate staff to attend sessions. The initial training will commence 23 September and will be rolled out until the end of November. The training for lower priority groups will continue until June 2019. The government will send out detailed communication to organisations in the coming weeks. Learning from NSW Information Sharing Schemes (in operation since 2009) encourages opportunities for refresher training.
- Face to face training for the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS), Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) and the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Risk Management (MARAM) Framework will commence on September 3rd.Training will be held over 2 consecutive days with participants from a variety of agencies and sectors. The initial training is designed to allow participants to attend either as a full two days of to select sessions that are relevant. A workforce customised module will be held in a separate 2 hour session at a later date.There are 2 learning streams, Organisational policy and leadership and Information sharer. Further details will be provided at the time of enrolment.
DHHS will contact organisational leaders and relevant agencies this week about the allocation of prioritised learning places and advice on how to enrol.
- DHHS is currently considering developing a similar framework document to MARAM for a shared understanding of wellbeing and risk thresholds. The Centre will also develop a resource to support worker understanding.
The Centre will continue to provide regular updates regarding the schemes. Organisations are invited to contact the Centre if you wish to know more about the CISS or have suggestions about resources or templates to support implementation of the reforms.