What to consider before sharing information
The mahi we do with tamariki and family/whānau means that we may collect information from a wide range of sources. Before sharing information consider the requirements outlined in the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and the related practice standards.
Consulting with te tamaiti about disclosing their information under section 66C
...if I tell someone something important it feels like they shouldn’t tell someone without asking. They should say “is it alright if I tell someone?” (tamaiti, age 7)
Under section 66C of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 there is a requirement for us to consult with tamariki or rangatahi (or their representative, like their parent or guardian, or caregiver) before sharing their information where it is appropriate and practicable.
Consulting with te tamaiti (or their representative) before sharing information about them:
- respects their mana
- supports open and transparent practice
- helps build trust and confidence
- respects rangatiratanga (people’s self-determination).
By actively involving tamariki or rangatahi in the events that have an impact on them, we can give them a sense of control which can enhance their resilience.
If we have to share information before we talk with tamariki or rangatahi (or their representative), we should speak with them as soon as possible afterwards so they understand what was shared, with whom, why and why they were not talked to beforehand.
The consultation process should help te tamaiti to:
- understand, and have support to understand:
- what will be shared and why
- who it will be shared with and who will see it
- any possible decisions that might be made with the information or other outcomes and consequences of sharing
- ask questions and have those answered
- tell us what they think and feel about sharing, including if they agree or not
- have their views on any decisions around information sharing considered.
Where te tamaiti or their representative does not want information shared, it is important to understand their concerns and honour their decision. However, there may be times when the potential benefits of sharing the information may outweigh the concerns and if sharing the information is in the best interests or for the well-being of te tamaiti. Any decision to share under these circumstances will need to be discussed with te tamaiti or their representative and discussed within supervision. The rationale for the decision will need to be recorded in a case note.
It might not be practicable or appropriate to consult with tamariki or rangatahi if:
- talking about information sharing might put tamariki or rangatahi or someone else at risk of harm
- talking with tamariki or rangatahi might be too distressing or upsetting for them or have a negative impact on their wellbeing
- discussing information sharing could put at risk, or get in the way of, a police investigation or prosecution
- we need to share information quickly because tamariki or rangatahi might be harmed
- after making reasonable efforts we, or another professional, can’t get in touch with te tamaiti, and we still think sharing will protect them from harm.
Consider the following before consulting with te tamaiti or their representative:
- How disclosing the information will support the wellbeing and best interest of te tamaiti.
- What early conversations we could have with te tamaiti and family/whānau about the possibility of disclosing information to support outcomes and secure services.
- How we have included te tamaiti in the decision about sharing information.
- How we adapt that conversation to fit the cognitive, developmental or any other needs of te tamaiti.
- What supports te tamaiti or their representative may require to participate in the process.
- Any disability needs and support te tamaiti may need to engage in the process effectively.
- The impact that discussing the information, or exposing te tamaiti to the information we are considering sharing, may have on them (see 'Trauma and consulting with te tamaiti about sharing their information' below).
- How we could mitigate impacts on te tamaiti before deciding against consultation.
- What support te tamaiti or their representative might need before, during and after this process (including using developmentally appropriate language and any additional accessibility considerations).
- How we can demonstrate that we have taken the views of te tamaiti into consideration.
Trauma and consulting with te tamaiti about sharing their information
For tamariki, rangatahi and family/whānau who have already experienced trauma disclosing information about them, or even consulting with them about information we plan to request or disclose to others, may trigger emotional responses and/or changes in behaviour. The impact of such discussions may reach into other areas of the life of te tamaiti including home, school or social settings.
Consider the following when planning to request or disclose information:
- Think about how and when we consult with te tamaiti when we plan to share information.
- Consider the impact sharing information may have on te tamaiti or rangatahi and how we can mitigate these.
- Pay attention to attachments that are most influential and protective to te tamaiti and recognise the risk of disrupting these relationships by sharing or requesting information.
- Consider what support te tamaiti or rangatahi may need before and after information is discussed or disclosed. Te tamaiti may have someone they want to be part of conversations about information sharing.
- Take the views of te tamaiti into account.
- Share only what we need to for the identified purpose.
- Have conversations with those we are sharing information with about the importance of keeping the information safe.
- Check in with te tamaiti during discussions about information sharing to see if they are okay.
Consulting with others about sharing information about them
There are no requirements in the information sharing provision of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 to consult with anybody but a tamaiti or their representative.
However, Oranga Tamariki policy requires that we consult with the person the information is about where it is safe to do so and where it poses no further risk to individuals.
Consulting about information sharing when a case is closed
If we receive a request for information that relates to te tamaiti or others where we are no longer involved, we are still required to consult with them, or their representative before sharing information where it is practicable and appropriate.
Who is involved
The National Contact Centre responds to requests where cases have been closed for 12 months or more.
Where a case has been closed for less than 12 months the request for information is directed to the site or social worker that had the last active involvement with te tamaiti.
Preparing for the consultation
When we are consulting about sharing information with tamariki, their representative, or the person the information is about and the case is closed, consider:
- whether te tamaiti or the person the information is about has been informed about the request by the requester and is aware that we are likely to contact them
- who is the best person for us to discuss the request with, and what may they require to participate effectively. This may depend on:
- what we know about the age and developmental level of te tamaiti or person concerned
- if they have nominated a representative
- any other information provided by the requester about consultation
- any other information contained in our records that may influence this decision
- how much te tamaiti may know about the information (for example, te tamaiti may not know or remember abuse, injuries or other details) – this will influence the way we proceed with consultation
- how to structure the conversation (introduction and purpose for the contact) to lessen any anxiety e.g. being clear about the purpose of the call at the start
- the impact the conversation or the nature of the information we are proposing to disclose may have on te tamaiti and what support they may need during and after the consultation.
Discuss a suitable time to consult. Be prepared to reschedule the conversation if the person involved is not able to have the conversation at that point in time or if a lengthier conversation is needed.
Meeting face to face
Following the initial contact, it may be necessary or appropriate to meet face to face, for example if:
- there is a large amount of information
- information is sensitive or complex
- it is the preference of te tamaiti or the person the information is about.
Meeting face to face may not always be possible if, for example:
- the person is no longer in the area
- if the request is being actioned through the National Contact Centre.
In these situations, check with the individual concerned about how we can support them or who else might be able to be with them in person during the discussion.
Deciding not to consult
If we make a professional decision that it is not practical or appropriate to consult with te tamaiti or others, we should record the rationale in CYRAS.