Communities and Justice

Case examples of information sharing

Case example – Information sharing saves lives: John and Anna

This case study is based on a real example that was examined in a NSW Coroner's Domestic Violence Death Review Report where the Coroner identified that the victim's death could have been prevented if information had been shared by agencies involved.

Anna and John were married and have 2 children, one recently born. John was on a community treatment order which provided for compulsory medication and his attendance at specialist consultations. The community treatment order had lapsed, but John still regularly attended a Community Health Centre. John had previously assaulted Anna and police had applied for an ADVO for her protection. An ADVO was currently in place for Anna's protection.

At an appointment at the Community Health Centre, the doctor noted that John had stopped taking his medication, and John informed the doctor that he was hearing voices. Anna was present but she was withdrawn and detached, even with the couple's recently born second child sitting on her lap. The doctor had some concerns about risks to Anna due to John's history of violence and current behaviour but there was nothing to suggest the threat of an adverse outcome was imminent.

In this case the doctor and other agencies that held information about John and Anna did not share information, or act on their concerns and nothing further was done.

John killed Anna the following day.

Had the doctor or any of the other agencies that had contact with John or Anna acted upon their concerns, completed a risk assessment with Anna, or used their professional judgment AND shared information with other agencies, then a complete picture of the situation would have revealed:

  • John's significant mental illness;
  • a long history of domestic violence incidents, including previous threats to kill Anna and other family members;
  • prior threats with a weapon;
  • previous ADVOs protecting Anna and other members of the family;
  • John's prior attempts at suicide;
  • John's assaults on Anna while she was pregnant;
  • a number of ROSH reports on the children from education and health that had been investigated;
  • Anna's social isolation; and
  • previous attempts by Anna to leave the relationship.

With all this information there is a much clearer picture of the threat to Anna and her children.

Case example – consent

Scenario 1  ​

The Local Coordination Point (LCP) has been working closely with Thani for several weeks, making warm referrals to a range of service providers for her ongoing needs. The LCP is about to close their file on Thani, as she has been successfully referred to a case management service, when her ex-boyfriend Leon is released from prison and begins to harass and threaten her again.

The LCP reassesses the level of threat to Thani's safety and identifies her at serious threat. Thani says that she does not want any further support, saying it will cause more trouble with Leon.

The worker would like to share Thani's and Leon's information at the next Safety Action Meeting

Consent required

Override consent permitted



Yes, where the LCP reasonably believes that by sharing information, actions could be taken that are necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to Thani's life, health or safety.  

Thani is at serious threat. 

The LCP should try to obtain Thani's consent in the first instance, but can override Thani's refusal of consent and share Thani and Leon's information in or outside of the Safety Action Meeting, if the LCP identifies actions that can be taken necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to Thani's life, health or safety.  

In all other cases, the LCP cannot share Thani's information.

Scenario 2 ​

The NSW Police Force attends a home following a phone call from neighbours reporting a domestic violence disturbance between Connie and Victor. The Police apply the DVSAT and based on Connie's answers identify her at threat. The Police apply for a provisional ADVO for Connie.

The Police would like to share information with the Central Referral Point

Consent required

Override consent permitted




The police do not need consent to share information to the CRP.

On receipt of the referral from police, the LCP worker will contact Connie and seek her consent to share Connie's and Victor's information.

Scenario 3 ​ ​

Jamila attends a doctor's surgery after being assaulted by her partner Salaam. The doctor is not trained in the use of a threat identification tool, but based on the evidence of physical injury and her psychological state, the doctor believes that Jamila is at serious threat. The doctor asks Jamila for an assessment of her own level of threat, and Jamila says she is worried Salaam will seriously harm her.

The doctor would like to share information with a domestic violence support service.

Consent required

Override consent permitted



Yes, where Jamila refuses consent, and the doctor reasonably believes that by sharing information, actions could be taken that are necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to Jamila's life, health or safety.  

Jamila is at serious threat:

The doctor seeks Jamila's consent and shares Jamila and Salaam's information with a DV support service.

If Jamila refuses consent - the doctor could override the refusal of consent, if the doctor identifies that actions could be taken to reduce or prevent the serious threat.

Scenario 4 ​ ​

Li makes a private application for an ADVO against her partner Jiang in the Local Court. A referral is made to the Central Referral Point and then allocated to a LCP.

Li receives a phone call the following day from the LCP and accepts their support. Li advises that she would like assistance with finding accommodation so she can leave Jiang. The LCP helps Li find a refuge and would like to share her information to make the referral to the refuge.

Li is concerned that her community is small and she does not want people to know about her situation. The LCP worker informs Li that there are strict confidentiality and security guidelines for any information shared with another service provider, but Li is still unsure.

The LCP would like to share information with the refuge.

Consent required

Override consent permitted




Li is assessed to be at threat but not at a serious threat.

The LCP cannot share Li's information with the refuge if Li does not consent.

Scenario 5 ​ ​

Trudi is a young woman with three small children. She lives in a rented house five kilometres from town. Trudi goes to a non-government service provider in a very distressed state accompanied by her three children. Trudi's regular counsellor, Agnes, comes in and speaks to her. Trudi tells Agnes that her Uncle Tim moved in with her and the children six weeks ago, and that when she confronted him after she discovered that he had not paid rent as promised and she received an eviction notice as a result, Tim threatened to hurt her. The threats frightened Trudi so much that she fled the house and walked to town with the children to seek refuge. Trudi is so distressed that just telling the story upsets her so much that she is crying and shaking.

Agnes cannot get Trudi to consent because she is so upset she cannot speak, but she would like to share information with the women's emergency housing service​.

Consent required

Override consent permitted




Trudi is at threat.

In this case, Agnes may be able to assume Trudi's implied consent by her communicating that she would like to seek temporary accommodation and presenting at the refuge for assistance. Agnes should consult with her manager to confirm the decision to share information with implied consent.

Then she may share information to make a referral for emergency housing.

See the Protocol for more information.

Scenario 6 ​

Fatima is estranged from her husband Ahmed but he keeps harassing her. One day Ahmed comes to Fatima's house and assaults her in front of their two children, saying he will kill her if she doesn't come back to him. The next day Fatima visits a nurse at the local community health centre. She tells the nurse about the assault and that Ahmed has stopped taking medication for depression, but walks out of the centre when the nurse talks to her about making referrals, and is not answering her phone.

The nurse wants to share information with the Local Coordination Point, the local migrant support service, and with Health.

Consent required

Override consent permitted



Yes, where it is unreasonable or impractical to obtain Fatima's consent, or she has refused consent and the nurse reasonably believes that by sharing information, actions could be taken that are necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to Fatima's life, health or safety.

In that case she may override the refusal to consent.

Fatima is at serious threat.

The nurse should seek consent, but as Fatima is not answering her phone and there are actions that can be taken to prevent or lessen a serious threat to Fatima's life, health or safety, the nurse can share information without consent.

The nurse should also share the information with the police.

The nurse should additionally take any actions under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection Act) 1998.

Case example – Overriding a refusal of consent

XiaoMei presents at a migrant support service in a regional town. The worker has spoken with XiaoMei on previous occasions, and knows that her husband John is a patient with the hospital's mental health unit.

XiaoMei has an infection on her leg as a result of not treating a wound that occurred because of 'another fall in the garden'. The worker asks XiaoMei about the situation at home, and XiaoMei tells her that John is in a really 'bad way' right now because he lost his job and spends his time at home drinking. The worker asks if she is worried for her safety and XiaoMei replies that she is, especially when he 'goes crazy' at her for no reason. She admits that her injury is as a result of John pushing her down the front stairs to their house because she didn't close the front door properly.

The worker uses her professional judgement to determine that XiaoMei is at serious threat from John's escalating violent behaviour, and tells XiaoMei that she would like to make referrals to make sure she will be safe. But XiaoMei says that she doesn't want any assistance and does not consent to sharing her information. 

The worker speaks with her manager as she believes that by sharing information with a domestic violence support service and with John's mental health team, actions can be taken to prevent or lessen a serious threat to XiaoMei's life or safety.

This is a difficult decision and one that is difficult to make considering the relationship between the worker and XiaoMei. But she considers the impact to XiaoMei's safety if she doesn't disclose the information. Ultimately, XiaoMei's safety is paramount and must guide decision-making.

The worker informs XiaoMei that there are serious threats to her life, health and safety – and possibly John's as well, and advises her that she will share information with John's case manager at the mental health unit and with the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS), and that she must report the assault to the police. The worker assures XiaoMei that only information necessary to prevent the serious threat will be shared - this will allow police to seek an ADVO or take other appropriate action, and that the WDVCAS will provide her with support and safety planning.

She adds that John will not be informed that any information has been shared and that he has no right to access her file.

Last updated:

21 Nov 2022