Information sharing

Information-sharing provisions in domestic and family violence legislation vary in scope and detail between jurisdictions and only some provide for information sharing in the conduct of protection order proceedings. The practice of information sharing involves interagency coordination and cooperation through protocols developed and regularly reviewed in collaboration between courts, the police and service agencies. These protocols have been shown to improve responses to the enforcement of protection orders, including improved approaches to the assessment and management of risk. There are also differences in how jurisdictions have legislated to prevent the inappropriate sharing of information and to protect people’s privacy.

In addition, all Australian jurisdictions have enacted information-sharing provisions facilitating the National Domestic Violence Orders Scheme (NDVOS), under which a domestic violence order issued on or after 25 November 2017 is automatically nationally enforceable. Every jurisdiction has enacted provisions that enable its courts or law enforcement agencies to obtain information about a DVO from a court or law enforcement agency in another jurisdiction, and use that information for the purpose of making, varying or revoking a DVO. The provisions further require courts or law enforcement agencies in one jurisdiction to provide information about a DVO to a court or law enforcement agency of another jurisdiction that the court or law enforcement agency reasonably requests for the purposes of exercising its functions.

Recent research indicates that the broader potential for sharing information between state/territory agencies responsible for responding to domestic and family violence, such as police, courts, child welfare and health authorities and support and referral services, has become an important factor in the overall effectiveness of responses to domestic and family violence. Information sharing in this context may mean that victims of violence are more likely to engage with the agency to which they have been referred if they know they will not be required to repeatedly re-tell their experiences to other agencies, and therefore avoid further trauma and distress. In addition, where the details of past violence or the risks of future violence are shared between agencies, timely action may be taken to address the risks and to ensure the safety and protection of the victim and other people at risk of harm.