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Shameful child abuse record prompts protection for officials sharing info about at-risk children


A law change is on the way to protect officials who share information about children at risk of abuse, ONE News has confirmed.

That sharing across welfare and other Govt agencies is seen as a key to stopping abuse. Source: 1 NEWS

That sharing across welfare and other government agencies is seen as key to stopping abuse before it's too late.

The Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, says a child's life is critical, but social service workers, health workers and non-government organisations don't swap information because they're scared of breaking privacy laws.

"What we know is that sometimes when the information starts to come to the table it's been clear that actually people have had information earlier on and not shared," said Sue Macklin of the Ministry of Social Development.

So the Government plans to change the law to reassure professionals. 

"We need to flip it on it's head and say what's is more important and then how do we protect you when you share that information in good faith," Mrs Tolley said. 

However, information sharing will only apply when there are fears a child is at risk.

"There have to be consequences for people who misuse that information," Mrs Tolley said. 

The Minister has got the backing of front-line staff.

"I think it will help because it will then allow everyone to be really clear that there is nothing standing in the way of them sharing information," Ms Macklin said.

It's part of a major overhaul of Child Youth and Family which comes into force next April and will take four to five years to complete.

"We are looking to turn the whole thing upside down and saying to everyone where there is a child who is vulnerable we need to understand their needs early on," Ms Macklin said.

Mrs Tolley will outline more changes in a major speech tomorrow.