21 October 2013

Removing barriers to sharing information and promoting a culture of appropriate and effective information sharing is an important priority of many organisations. Australian Federal, State and Territory Governments and many other organisations do this by developing Information Sharing Guidelines (ISGs).

[Such guidelines can] 'provide a mechanism for information sharing [for] Government agencies and relevant non-government organisations wanting to provide more integrated support to children, young people and adults who are at risk of harm.' - Office of the Ombudsman, South Australia

The South Australian Office of the Ombudsman also offers this helpful video about their Information Sharing Guidelines.

What policies and systems are in place at your ECEC service or agency to support effective information sharing? Does everyone know about them? Is it time to review them?

Information Sharing Guidelines provide a framework to ensure that personal information is shared appropriately. Being familiar with your State or Territory's ISG documents can be a starting point for developing or reviewing your own context-specific ISG. They often offer a consistent, clear and guided state-wide decision-making approach to sharing personal information.

Whether satisfying the National Quality Standard’s requirements, implementing the KidsMatter Early Childhood Framework or both, planning to develop this kind of document in your service will assist in making decisions about when it’s appropriate to share information and ensure your service is prepared for future events.

We’ve created a sample working document for you to consider:

ECEC service Action Plan: Improve Information Sharing Practices 

Current practices and strengths

  •  We currently make referrals to the Inclusion Support Agency and work closely with the ISF to support children with additional needs. NQS 2.1 (can review in KMEC Component 4)
  •  We have a relationship with the local Community Health Service and have various pamphlets available for families. NQS 6.1, 6.3 (can review in KMEC Components 1,3,4)
  •  Our current enrolment process gathers information about children and their families. NQS 6.1,7.3 (can review KMEC Component 1,2,3,4)

Actions for improvement

  •  Identify local agencies in the community that connect children and families with our work: Compile a list of local agencies and groups by brainstorming at a staff meeting and add parent input invited through note in newsletter.NQS 6.1, 6.3, (KMEC Component 1, 3, 4)
  • Choose and prioritse two local agencies that are most helpful in supporting children's mental health with the objective of strengthening the connection and improving the information sharing processes. NQS 2.1, 2.3 (KMEC Component 2,3,4)
  • Establish and build working partnerships: ask a small group of volunteers to find out about the agencies and make contact with them. Find out the contact person, invite them to visit the service. Begin sharing information by telling them about our work with KidsMatter, ask about their work. NQS 6.3, 6.3 NQS 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 (KMEC Component 1, 3)
  • Collaboration and shared decision-making. Initiate the development of information sharing protocols with these organisations that encompass our current practice. Build upon but also review/learn from other's practice. NQS 4.2, 6.3 (KMEC Component 1, 3, 4)

Possible next steps​

  • Review how we communicate the ISG with families NQS 6 (KMEC Component 1, 3, 4)
  • Report to management about processes and outcomes of improving ISG's and recommend adaptations to current policies as required. NQS 7 (potential role of KMEC Leadership Team)
  • Will staff training be needed? NQS 5, 6, 7 (KMEC Component 2)

Here are some more links to specific State and Territory Information Sharing Guidelines:

Read more

Sharing information #1: The pros and cons

Sharing information #3: 10 tips to embed information sharing into your ECEC philosophy and practice