Who this guidance applies to
This guidance applies to Oranga Tamariki staff who need to:
- request information relating to the wellbeing, safety and best interests of a tamaiti
- disclose information under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989
- disclose information under the Family Violence Act 2018
- disclose information under the Privacy Act 2020.
In addition to this guidance, further guidance has been developed to support those in the child welfare sector to utilise the information sharing provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act.
When this guidance doesn't apply
This guidance does not apply to requests for information we receive under the Official Information Act 1982 or when an individual requests their own information under the Privacy Act 2020 — Privacy and Official Information (POI) requests.
Information sharing and tamariki and rangatahi wellbeing and safety
There are many situations when services other than Oranga Tamariki can provide the kind of parenting support and advice, advocacy, mentoring, counselling, additional resources or practical help that tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau need to improve wellbeing. To do this effectively they will need information that is accurate, up to date, relevant and complete.
For tamariki and rangatahi, wellbeing includes the things that help them to thrive, feel supported, safe, loved, and have a positive sense of who they are and where they belong. Exactly how wellbeing looks is different for each tamaiti, rangatahi and whānau because in many ways it’s a very personal thing. Wellbeing can include things like:
- strong positive whānau relationships
- spiritual and cultural connections
- having their developmental needs met and supported — education, behaviour, life skills and self-care skills
- emotional resilience and support
- social and peer groups that are supportive, caring and positive
- physical and mental wellness
- security — being safe from harm, living in a safe community, having a warm dry home, having enough food.
Safety concerns as defined in section 14AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act are when:
- tamariki or rangatahi are being, or are likely to be:
- physically, emotionally or sexually abused
- parents or caregivers aren’t willing or able to care for tamariki
- the development of tamariki or their physical, mental or emotional wellbeing is likely to be impaired or neglected in a way that is avoidable
- tamariki or rangatahi see, hear or live in a home with family violence
- serious differences exist between te tamaiti or rangatahi and the parents or caregivers or between those who have the care or te tamaiti or rangatahi.
Professional judgement matters
Your professional judgement really matters. Situations for tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau are all different, and which agencies and organisations are available to help varies. So deciding to share information or not, what should be shared, with whom and why will differ as well.
The decision we make around requesting and providing information can have a profound impact on te tamaiti and their whānau.
When requesting or disclosing information:
- check that information is as relevant, accurate, up to date and complete as possible
- share only what you need for the identified purpose
- record information sharing decisions
- seek support or advice from your manager or supervisor if you are unsure or legal services as appropriate.
What tamariki and rangatahi tell us about information sharing
Like anyone, tamariki and rangatahi have views and concerns about how information about them is shared and used. Groups of tamariki and rangatahi were asked what they thought about sharing information and what they need from us when their information is going to be shared. The guidance below is based on comments that they told us.
Tamariki and rangatahi we spoke to said that they:
- understand the need to share information when it is explained to them
- regard sharing their personal information as risky — as it poses a risk of humiliation, information being misconstrued, or negative repercussions
- don’t want their information shared with multiple people and if it is they want to know who and how many
- trust adults who keep their information in confidence, which means to share and maintain trust, adults need to consult them first
- value support from family/whānau and friends when they are having important or difficult conversations like being told their information may be shared
- want to be supported by adults from the same culture as them
- want adults to treat them with respect, which means connecting with them and understanding their situation
- want to participate in the information sharing process – checking the accuracy of material, being present and speaking for themselves.
The situation for each tamaiti or rangatahi, and what they need, will be different and you will need to consider this when you are sharing their information.
Information sharing and the principles of mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga
For any of us, the idea of information about us being requested, stored and used can create a sense of vulnerability. Treat all information with the care and respect that you would expect your own information to receive.
Both requesting information and disclosing it will have an impact on mana tamaiti and whānau.
Information that we request or disclose should ultimately enhance mana tamaiti and help to connect or reconnect to safety, oranga, identity and wairua. It should build and enhance whanaungatanga and whakapapa so that these connections can be used in the journey of te tamaiti and their whānau.
Ensure when requesting information that we:
- are clear about the information that we need
- gather information from the person concerned wherever possible
- only record the relevant information received
- let people know what information we are requesting and from whom, where this is practicable and appropriate
- consider the importance of mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga.
Ensure that information we disclose is:
- up to date
- relevant to the specified purpose
- presented in a way that will enhance mana tamaiti
- disclosed with consideration of the importance of whakapapa and whanaungatanga.
Mana is the intrinsic worth and self-esteem of te tamaiti. Respecting the mana of te tamaiti involves valuing their knowledge, supporting the development of their authority and recognising their power and voice in decision-making.
To seek connection or reconnection to safety, wellbeing, identity and wairua of te tamaiti.
In the best interests of the safety, wellbeing, identity and wairua of te tamaiti.
Whakapapa refers to the genealogy and bloodlines that tie tamariki and rangatahi to their ancestors — past, present and future. Whakapapa links te tamaiti to significant ancestral places such as wāhi tapu (sacred places). For tangata whenua and other indigenous cultures, genealogy is considered multidimensional and not just maternal and paternal family lines.
Requesting biological information about te tamaiti needs to be relevant, purposeful and appropriate to te tamaiti.
Any information gathered needs to be respectfully stored and not used for any situations other than te tamaiti in question.
To access biological whānau connections that are appropriate and relevant to te tamaiti.
Whanaungatanga connections are a living and moving experience for te tamaiti, from birth to adulthood — celebrating achievements and overcoming challenges with supportive networks and communities of change.
Request information in the best interests of te tamaiti that is relevant, purposeful and appropriate to the cultural identity of te tamaiti.
In the best interests of te tamaiti, disclose information to the enablers of action including external hapū and iwi, friends, community network, NGOs, service providers and sports/recreation/cultural networks.
Information sharing practice to enhance mana tamaiti may include:
- being transparent about information we are gathering or disclosing unless doing so creates further risk to te tamaiti or the person concerned
- having te tamaiti and whānau identify supportive connections to enhance whanaungatanga
- being mindful about the way information is presented and the impact this may have on mana tamaiti
- considering the challenges facing tamariki, rangatahi and whānau
- identifying the needs, strengths, resources and support systems
- working with te tamaiti and whānau to identify goals, hopes and aspirations and the kind of support and help they need.
Whānau searching and whakapapa researching
Gathering information on whānau and whakapapa, as appropriate, are practices that support the work we do.
Whānau searching and whakapapa researching can:
- identify the immediate and extended whānau, hapū and iwi of tamariki and rangatahi Māori
- identify important people and groups who could be part of the decision-making
- identify and establish important links to people, places, values and events
- increase the sense of belonging, wellbeing and identity of te tamaiti.
Information gathered through whānau searches will be used to support everyday work with te tamaiti and whānau and may be shared in line with the provisions and with best practice around working and engaging with te tamaiti, whānau and wider caregivers or victims of offending.
Information gained from whakapapa researching belongs to the whānau and is not ours to share. We would not disclose this information to others without discussing the implications of this with whānau.
Specific guidance has been developed to support you with this work.
How sections 65A to 66Q of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 work with other laws and guides to support good information sharing
The Privacy Act controls what and how agencies collect, use, disclose, store, and give access to information that identifies an individual. You can find out more about the Privacy Act on the Privacy Commissioner’s website.
Sections 65A to 66Q of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and the Family Violence Act 2018 regulate how information can be shared in certain situations.
The legislative requirements are similar, but there are some key differences including who the requirements apply to, and the purposes that information can be shared for.
The 4 most important things to know about how the Acts work are:
- Safety comes first – personal information should be shared with the right people or agencies if there are concerns about someone's safety or if they or others are at risk of harm. The Oranga Tamariki Act, Family Violence Act and Privacy Act all allow information sharing in situations to keep people, including tamariki and rangatahi, safe.
- Child welfare agencies and independent people can proactively share information, but in most cases it’s not compulsory – they should feel confident and empowered to proactively share information when it fits with the purposes of the Oranga Tamariki Act or the Family Violence Act. There are no mandatory or compulsory information sharing requirements across the social sector (except when Oranga Tamariki or the Police make a request for information under section 66 of the Oranga Tamariki Act for information that isn’t covered by legal professional privilege).
- You are protected when you share in good faith – if you share information in good faith, and comply with the information sharing provisions set out in the Oranga Tamariki Act or the Family Violence Act, you are generally protected from civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings.
- Section 66Q of the Oranga Tamariki Act explains that many of the principles (1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13) of the Privacy Act still apply when you’re sharing information using the Oranga Tamariki provisions. These relate to:
- ensuring information that is disclosed to others is accurate, up to date and as complete as possible
- keeping information safe and secure and protecting it from misuse
- only collecting information for a lawful purpose
- providing people with the chance to access their information
- providing people with the chance to ask for their information to be corrected if they think it is wrong
- only keeping information for as long as required for the purpose it was collected.
There are other pieces of legislation that may require us to share information or allow us to, for example section 22C of the Health Act 1956.
Recording information sharing
Keeping good records about information sharing is important to help demonstrate that you shared in good faith. It is important to have records available for tamariki or rangatahi and whānau (or anyone else whose information is shared) to access so they can understand what has happened with their information. Records also provide a paper trail for us if anyone wants to understand the decisions we make around sharing information (which is important if we are questioned about sharing or there is a complaint).
Keep good records in line with Oranga Tamariki recording policies. Record clear details of the request or disclosure of information in a casenote in CYRAS under the relevant phase.
Casenotes should include:
- what we have requested and from whom
- what information we have received from requests — remember to include the section of the Oranga Tamariki Act (section 66 or section 66C) the information was provided under as this will help you to make decisions about whether we are permitted to on-share that information with others if appropriate at a later date
- details of requests for information made to us
- what is requested
- by who
- purpose of the request
- the Act the information was requested under
- details on any information we disclose
- details of the rationale for deciding not to disclose information.