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Information sharing to be protected

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/11/2016

The government intends setting up a comprehensive information-sharing regime to help keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm.

Professionals and agencies sharing information will have legal protection, and they'll also be required to share what they know when they're asked to by the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, which is still to be set up.

Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley say the regime will mean the ministry can be proactive and take early, preventative action rather than simply responding to a crisis.

The ministers announced their intentions in a joint statement on Thursday, saying the regime would go hand-in-hand with similar provisions that are proposed for family violence.

"We don't want people with concerns about vulnerable children worrying more about falling foul of privacy rules than preventing harm and abuse," Ms Adams said.

Mrs Tolley says there have been too many cases where people held "little bits of information" which, if shared, could have prevented a tragedy.

"Currently, many professionals and agencies default to not sharing information because of legal risks, or work in silos," she said.

"They need to be given the confidence to come forward so that the new ministry can see the whole picture of a child's life."

Mrs Tolley will introduce legislation establishing the new ministry before the end of the year.

It will replace Child, Youth and Family.

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