Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5657..
MS BURCH (continuing):
appraisal information; interstate care and protection information; family group conference information; contravention report information; and information prescribed by regulation.
The act limits the sharing of protected information and provides further limitation on the use or disclosure of sensitive information. Provisions that allow for the divulging of sensitive information require the consideration of the best interest, safety and wellbeing of the child or young person and prohibit the release of information that would identify a person who has made a child concern report.
Upon receipt of a child concern report or the making of a child protection report, a prenatal report or notification, child protection authorities need to ascertain the level of risk to the children or young people concerned and the nature of voluntary or statutory involvement required. To achieve this outcome, inquiries are made of persons or agencies who may be involved with the children or young people. This information is directly linked to the reports which are sensitive information.
An amendment is proposed to expand the definition of sensitive information to include the information gathered following receipt of a report. This will ensure consistent protection of a reporter and the information pertaining to the report or concern. The protection of a reporter's identity is a primary consideration when considering the release of sensitive information. The act allows for the release of sensitive information in limited circumstances and sections prohibit the release of sensitive information which could identify a person as a "reporter"under the act.
The protection provided by these sections is currently limited to the reporter of a child concern report, not including a prenatal reporter, a confidential report or an interstate care and protection report. The proposed amendment will provide protection to all reporters under this act, including prenatal reporters, and child protection and prenatal reporters under the Children and Young People Act 1999 and reporters of notifications under the Children's Services Act 1986. This will continue the ongoing protection of reporters when sharing crucial information to assist and support children and families.
A further information sharing amendment is the provision of information to police. The act provides that an information holder must produce or give protected information to a court or investigative entity when doing so is "required"or "authorised"by the act or another territory law. The act provides no specific limitations on the provision of sensitive information when required by an investigative entity acting under a lawful authority.
The proposed amendment authorises the chief executive to provide a reporter's details to police to assist in the investigation of an alleged criminal offence committed against a child or young person or children or young people. The amendment also provides that the chief executive can provide police with the reporter's name when police request this information when investigating offences disclosed in a child concern report which has been referred by the chief executive to the police.
The amendment extends what is currently authorised under the act to release to the police as an investigative entity. The amendment does not affect or modify a courts or investigative entities authority to compel information under a lawful authority.