Publication of identifying details

Follow this procedure when the identifying details of a child protection client may be or are published in the media (including social media).

Document ID number 1510, version 5, 12 March 2020.

Introduction

This procedure covers:

  • media enquiry or exposure about a child protection client
  • release of information to the media in general, including for the purposes of attracting foster carers or to highlight community events
  • potential breaches of s. 534 of the CYFA by an individual or media.

See Missing persons reports for procedures when issuing a missing persons media release about a child protection client where identifying details are not published.

See Publication of identifying details – advice for further information about the distinction between publishing photos and posts on social media, and publishing information about a child or young person subject to a protection order or Children’s Court proceedings.

Procedure – media enquiry or exposure about a child protection client

Case practitioner tasks

  • Alert your team manager of actual or potential media interest in a child protection client or family.
  • Do not provide any information about the case to any media organisation without the approval of the area director, or director, child protection.
  • Refer any contact from a media organisation to the department's media unit (media unit: on-call number: 9096 7710  email: media@dhhs.vic.gov.au).
  • Follow the Client Incident Management System (CIMS) requirements.
  • Provide support to the child, family or carers as required.

Team manager tasks

  • Immediately advise the area director, or director, child protection through the deputy area operations manager, and area operations manager or assistant director, child protection of any information about actual or potential media interest in a child protection client or family. Brief about alerts, safety concerns, or information restrictions recorded in CRIS.
  • Brief the divisional manager, executive response coordination (MERC) who will brief the department's media unit, in consultation with your manager. The media unit will assume responsibility for subsequent contact with the media (media unit: on-call number: 9096 7710, email: media@dhhs.vic.gov.au).
  • Consult with parents about any proposed media action involving their child. Parents must be consulted unless the child is subject to a care by Secretary order or long-term care order.
  • Oversee endorsed actions, including an application seeking permission from the Secretary, or an application to the Children’s Court seeking permission from the President, to publish identifying information if this has been authorised by the area director, or director, child protection.

Area director, or director, child protection tasks

  • Brief the divisional manager, executive response coordination (MERC) who will brief the Minister’s office as appropriate.

Procedure – release of general information

Area director, or director, child protection tasks

  • Consider any possible breach of s. 534 of the CYFA, as well as requirements under s. 192 of the CYFA, the Child Information Sharing Scheme, the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, before endorsing publication of information about child protection clients. Consult with Legal Services where required. See Information sharing in child protection practice.
  • Decide whether to release information to the media regarding children who are involved with child protection. If you need assistance with making this decision, consult with the Office of Professional Practice and Legal Services.

Procedure – potential breaches of s. 534

Case practitioner tasks

  • Alert your team manager if you become aware of information being published that may identify a child as subject to proceedings in the Children’s Court or an order of the Children’s Court where permission has not been granted under s. 534. 'Publish' in this context means any action that puts information into the public domain, including radio, television, newspaper, pamphlets, social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) or any public other communication vehicle.
  • Complete an incident report.
  • Provide support and advice to the child, family or carers as required.

Please note: It is not a breach of s. 534 for the child or young person to have their photograph taken, for example, school photos, if the child is not identified (or is not likely to be identified) as being subject to proceedings in the Children’s Court or a protection order. Children and young people should have the same opportunities as their peers, where possible.

Team manager tasks

  • Advise the deputy area operations managerand area operations manager or assistant director, child protection of the potential breach of s. 534

Area operations manager or assistant director, child protection tasks

  • Consider whether a breach by a media organisation or individual, such as the parent, may best be dealt with via education, such as writing to the media outlet or individual, such as the parent, alerting them to the potential breach of the CYFA.
  • Determine whether a potential breach of s. 534 of the CYFA should be reported to police. The matter may be reported to police if the individual refuses to remove the identifying information, or if they continue to publish new information.
  • Consult with Legal Services and, in the case of a potential breach by a media outlet, with the media unit, before making a report to police.

Related procedures

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