Personal and health information of students, staff and others can be shared to carry out school and Department functions, for other related purposes and in other limited circumstances such as where there is a risk to health and safety.
‘Need to know’ framework
All staff should share information about students, staff and others on a ‘need to know’ basis, that is, to allow staff to perform their primary function (or for a secondary purpose that would be reasonably expected by the individual whose information is being shared).
Refer to the FAQ for for detailed guidance on the ‘need to know’ framework and the Schools’ Privacy for more information on primary and secondary purposes.
Sharing information helps schools and the Department to:
- educate students, plan for individual needs and address barriers to learning
- support the students’ social and emotional wellbeing and health at school
- fulfil legal obligations towards students and the community.
Sharing information about students
The ‘need to know’ framework sets out that school staff can share student information amongst other school staff and relevant members of the Department to enable the school to:
- provide for and support the student’s education
- support the student’s social and emotional wellbeing and health
- reduce the risk of reasonably foreseeable harm to the student, other students, staff or visitors (duty of care)
- make a reasonable adjustment for the student’s disability (anti-discrimination law)
- provide a safe and secure workplace (occupational health and safety (OHS) law).
In addition to considering the ‘need to know’ framework, there are occasions where the school may lawfully share information with other parties outside the school or the Department. There is detailed guidance on how to:
- respond to specific requests for student information by third parties, refer to Requests for Information about Students
- request and share confidential information with authorised services to promote child wellbeing or safety, or assess or manage family violence risk, refer to Child and Family Violence Information Sharing Schemes for further information
- support a child who has been impacted, or is suspected to be impacted, by abuse, refer to Child protection privacy and information .
When a student has been accepted at, and is transferring to or from, another school (Victorian government, non-government and/or interstate), the current school transfers information about the student to the new school.
This information may include copies of the student’s school records, including any health, wellbeing or safety related information. This enables the new school to continue to provide for the education of the student, to support the student’s social and emotional wellbeing and health, and to fulfil legal requirements.
Parental consent is not required to transfer this information between Victorian government schools but must be obtained when the student is transferring to or from Victorian non-government schools including Catholic schools or interstate schools.
Further direction on information transfers between schools is available in the guidance under Enrolment – Student transfers between schools.
Staff information should be shared using the ‘need to know’ framework to allow other staff to perform their function, for example, to recruit and pay staff, support their health and wellbeing, and to comply with the Department’s legal obligations, policies and staff codes of conduct. This may include sharing necessary information with the relevant school, regional or central office staff, where permitted.
Reviewed 07 December 2021