Chapters

1. Introduction to the Inquiry

2. Conceptual Framework

3. Common Interpretative Framework

4. Screening, Information Sharing and Privacy

 

Proposals and Questions in this Part

Proposal 3–1         The Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) should be amended to provide that family violence is violent or threatening behaviour, or any other form of behaviour, that coerces and controls a family member, or causes that family member to be fearful. Such behaviour may include, but is not limited to:

  1. physical violence;
  2. sexual assault and other sexually abusive behaviour;
  3. economic abuse;
  4. emotional or psychological abuse;
  5. stalking;
  6. kidnapping or deprivation of liberty;
  7. damage to property, irrespective of whether the victim owns the property;
  8. causing injury or death to an animal irrespective of whether the victim owns the animal; and
  9. behaviour by the person using violence that causes a child to be exposed to the effects of behaviour referred to in (a)–(h) above.

Proposal 3–2         The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (Cth) should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–3         A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Cth) should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–4         A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 (Cth) should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–5         The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–6         The following guidelines and material should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1:

  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Job Services Australia Guidelines, Advices and Job Aids;
  • Safe Work Australia Codes of Practice and other material
  • Fair Work Australia material; and
  • other similar material.

Proposal 3–7         The Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (Cth) and, where appropriate, all Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Australian Taxation Office and superannuation fund material, should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–8         The Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) should be amended to provide for a consistent definition of family violence as proposed in Proposal 3–1.

Proposal 3–9         The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Procedures Advice Manual 3 for decision makers should include examples to illustrate coercive and controlling conduct that may amount to family violence, including but not limited to:

  1. the threat of removal; and
  2. violence perpetrated by a family member of the sponsor at the instigation, or through the coercion, of the sponsor.

Proposal 4–1         Information about screening for family violence by Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should be included in the Child Support Guide, the Family Assistance Guide and the Guide to Social Security Law.

Proposal 4–2         Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should routinely screen for family violence when commencing the application process with a customer, immediately after that, and at defined intervals and trigger points (as identified in Chapters 5 and 9–11).

Proposal 4–3         Screening for family violence by Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should be conducted through different formats including through:

  • electronic and paper claim forms and payment booklets;
  • in person;
  • posters and brochures;
  • recorded scripts for call waiting;
  • telephone prompts;
  • websites; and
  • specific publications for customer groups such as News for Seniors.

Proposal 4–4         In conducting screening for family violence, Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should take into consideration a customer’s cultural and linguistic background as well as a person’s capacity to understand, such as due to cognitive disability.

Question 4–1         In addition to the initial point of contact with the customer, at what trigger points should Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers screen for family violence?

Proposal 4–5         Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should receive regular and consistent training and support (including resource manuals and information cards) in:

  • screening for family violence sensitively; and
  • responding appropriately to disclosure of family violence, including by making referrals to Centrelink social workers.

Proposal 4–6         Training provided to Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff, and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should include:

  • the nature, features and dynamics of family violence, and its impact on victims, in particular those from high risk and vulnerable groups;
  • recognition of the impact of family violence on particular customers such as Indigenous peoples; those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; those from lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex communities; children and young people; older persons; and people with disability;
  • training to ensure customers who disclose family violence, or fear for their safety, know about their rights and possible service responses, such as those listed in Proposal 4–8; and
  • training in relation to responding appropriately to and interviewing victims of family violence. In particular, training for Centrelink customer service advisers and social workers should include information about the potential impact of family violence on a job seeker’s barriers to employment.

Proposal 4–7         The Department of Human Services should ensure that monitoring and evaluation of processes for screening for family violence is conducted regularly and the outcomes of such monitoring and evaluation are made public.

Proposal 4–8         The Child Support Guide, the Family Assistance Guide and the Guide to Social Security Law should provide that Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff and Centrelink customer service advisers, social workers, Indigenous Service Officers and Multicultural Service Officers should give all customers information about how family violence may be relevant to the child support, family assistance, social security and Job Services Australia systems. This should include, but is not limited to:

  • exemptions;
  • entitlements;
  • information protection;
  • support and services provided by the agencies;
  • referrals; and
  • income management.

Proposal 4–9         The Department of Human Services and other relevant departments and agencies should develop a protocol to ensure that disclosure of family violence by a customer prompts the following service responses:

  • case management, including provision of information in Proposal 4–8, and additional services and resources where necessary; and
  • the treatment of that information as highly confidential with restricted access.

Proposal 4–10        The Guide to Family Assistance and the Child Support Guide should provide that where family violence is identified through the screening process, or otherwise, Centrelink, Child Support Agency and Family Assistance Office staff must refer the customer to a Centrelink social worker.

Proposal 4–11        Where family violence is identified through the screening process or otherwise, a ‘safety concern flag’ should be placed on the customer’s file.

Proposal 4–12        The ‘safety concern flag’ only (not the customer’s entire file) should be subject to information sharing as discussed in Proposal 4–13.

Proposal 4–13        If a ‘safety concern flag’ is developed in accordance with Proposal 4–11, the Department of Human Services and other relevant departments and agencies should develop inter-agency protocols for information sharing between agencies in relation to the ‘safety concern flag’. Parties to such protocols should receive regular and consistent training to ensure that the arrangements are effectively implemented.

Proposal 4–14        The Department of Human Services and other relevant departments and agencies should consider issues, including appropriate privacy safeguards, with respect to the personal information of individual customers who have disclosed family violence in the context of their information-sharing arrangements.

Proposal 4–15        The Department of Human Services and other relevant departments and agencies should develop policies and statements relating to family violence and child protection, to ensure consistency in service responses. These policies should be published on the agencies’ websites and be included in the information provided to customers in Proposal 4–8.