We are proposing to change the law in the ACT to allow government and non-government agencies to work together for the safety of people at risk of domestic and family violence.

These proposed changes will also enable agencies to hold people who use domestic and family violence to account.

The new laws and supporting guidelines will provide for a more integrated approach by agencies when responding to domestic and family violence.

This could include communication between agencies about the situation of a person at risk, or information about a person using violence that will help to hold them to account.

We know that when different agencies have different information about a domestic and family violence matter, this information in isolation may not show that a person is at risk of harm.

When pieces of information are provided and put together through effective communication between agencies, it is easier to identify risk and keep people safe.

What we know

There have been various reviews and investigations into domestic and family violence in the ACT, in Australia and elsewhere. What we have found is while it is legally possible for communication between agencies to occur in the ACT, many agencies are uncertain about what they can do.

Concern about privacy is the main reason for a lack of proactive communication between agencies in the ACT.

Given that many workers feel they cannot communicate between agencies, this proposed legislation will outline the way communication between agencies can occur to protect the safety of people.

This will support more effective ways for agencies to communicate with each other to get an accurate picture of risk and take appropriate steps to keep people safe.

We want this legislation to encourage communication between agencies so safeguards can be put in place as early as possible.

What we need to consider

Establishing how and when agencies communicate is complex as we need to balance the right to safety, the right to life and the right to privacy.

Different human rights are protected in a variety of ways in the ACT. However, no human right is absolute and often one right has to be balanced against another.

For example, the Human Rights Act 2004 provides that human rights may be subject to reasonable limits set by laws that can be shown to be justified.

These proposed changes to legislation seek to make it clear when and how communication between agencies can occur when there is a risk to the safety and wellbeing of one or more people.

Find out more

You can find out more details about this issue by reading the discussion paper or contacting us at saferfamilies@act.gov.au.