Communities and Justice

Further information

Safer Pathway aim and program logic

Safer Pathway aims to ensure that victim-survivors of domestic and family violence and their children are safe and can access supports to meet their needs and circumstances.

A carefully designed program logic describes how different elements of Safer Pathway work together to achieve this goal.

The program logic also provides a framework to monitor and evaluate how effectively Safer Pathway is working to improve safety and support victim-survivors of domestic and family violence and their children.

Agencies responsible for Safer Pathway

Several Government agencies are responsible for leading the implementation and oversight of Safer Pathway, including Legal Aid NSW, Victims Services and Women NSW within in the Department of Communities and Justice, and the NSW Police Force.

  • Legal Aid NSW leads service delivery for female victim-survivors referred to Safer Pathway. Legal Aid NSW also provides training and support for the implementation of Safety Action Meetings.
  • NSW Victims Services leads service delivery for male victim-survivors referred to Safer Pathway. Victims Services also manages the Central Referral Point (CRP) electronic referral platform.
  • NSW Police leads frontline implementation of Safer Pathway, applying the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool at every domestic and family violence incident reported to Police in NSW.
  • Other government agencies including NSW Health, Education and relevant Department of Communities and Justice agencies, including Housing, Child Protection and Corrective Services NSW, participate in Safety Action Meetings, as do relevant local non-government support services in each location.

Key components of Safer Pathway

Safer Pathway has five components:

  1. Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool (DVSAT) that is used to consistently identify the level of domestic violence threat to victim-survivors.
  2. Central Referral Point (CRP) to electronically manage and monitor referrals.
  3. State-wide networks of Local Coordination Points for female victim-survivors and Local Support Services for male victim-survivors to facilitate local responses and provide victim-survivors with case coordination and support.
  4. Safety Action Meetings where representatives from relevant government agencies and non-government service providers develop plans for victim-survivors at serious threat of death, disability or injury as a result of domestic and family violence.
  5. Information sharing legislation that allows service providers to share information about victim-survivors and perpetrators so that victim-survivors do not have to retell their story multiple times, strengthen perpetrators’ accountability, and support safety and promote an integrated and coordinated response.

Safer Pathway information sharing and the law

What is the Part 13A information sharing legislation?

Part 13A of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and the Domestic Violence Information Sharing Protocol (the Protocol) creates exceptions to NSW privacy laws to allow service providers to share information about domestic violence victim-survivors and perpetrators in defined circumstances.

In a domestic and family violence context, information sharing is important to:

  • ensure government agencies and non-government service providers have a complete picture of the level of threat to victim-survivors, including children
  • improve safety of victim-survivors and their children and prevent or reduce death, illness, injury and disability
  • enable agencies to manage risks together
  • hold perpetrators accountable

Which service providers can share information under Part 13A?

Part 13A applies to the following service providers where they provide domestic violence support services:

  • NSW government agencies and statutory bodies, such as public schools, public hospitals and government departments
  • Public sector agencies and private sector persons such as medical, hospital and nursing services, general practitioners, community health services, health education services and welfare services
  • Any organisation funded by a NSW government agency
  • Any non-government support service that has agreed to comply with the standards set out in the Protocol

Does information sharing require a victim-survivor's consent?

It is best practice to seek a victim-survivor’s consent, where possible, before sharing information. But there are certain circumstances where it may be unreasonable or impractical to seek a victim-survivor’s consent, and there are limited circumstances where a victim-survivor’s refusal to consent may be overridden.

Part 13A allows service providers to share relevant information if the threat is serious and it is necessary to share information in order for agencies to take action to reduce or prevent this threat. Specifically, where there are child protection concerns and/or if a victim-survivor is at serious threat, service providers can share relevant information without a victim-survivor’s consent in order to lessen or prevent the threat to theirs or others life, health or safety.

When can information be shared under Part 13A?

Service providers may only collect, use and disclose victim-survivors’ and perpetrators’ personal and health information under Part 13A and the Protocol for legitimate purposes, i.e. to:

  • make a referral for domestic violence support services for a victim-survivor
  • provide support services to a victim-survivor
  • prevent or lessen a serious threat to a person’s life, health or safety

Does Part 13A replace child protection mandatory reporting obligations?

No, Part 13A does not replace information sharing practices or processes that may apply in child protection cases. Certain service providers are mandatory reporters under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (CYPCP Act) and their mandatory reporting obligations continue in respect of any information shared under Part 13A.

In cases of domestic violence where children are victims or are affected by domestic violence in the home, prescribed bodies should exchange information under Chapter 16A of the CYPCP Act in the first instance. Chapter 16A prioritises the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of a child or young person over an individual’s right to privacy.

Can information relating to the perpetrator be shared with the victim?

No, the only legitimate purpose for sharing information under Part 13A is to facilitate access to domestic violence support services or to prevent or reduce a serious threat.

Will sexual assault communication privilege be lost?

An amendment in 2019 to Section 98K of the Crimes (Personal and Domestic Violence) Act 2007 ensured that information shared under Part 13A, that would normally attract the protection of the Sexual Assault Communication Privilege (SACP), still remains privileged. So, sharing sexual assault information at a Safety Action Meeting does not mean that information will no longer attract the protection of SACP. However, it’s important to be cautious when sharing sexual assault information at a Safety Action Meeting, as meeting records may be subpoenaed. The usual rules of information sharing still apply. The information must be relevant to the current domestic violence threat. And it must be necessary to share that information in order to lessen the threat to the victim. Workers are encouraged to seek internal guidance from within their agency prior to releasing information that may be subject to SACP advice can also be sought from Legal Aid’s Sexual Assault Communications Privilege Service.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are important aspects of Safer Pathway that help to ensure the service is working effectively to improve safety and support victim-survivors and their children.

  • Monitoring is critical for ensuring Safer Pathway is implemented as intended and to enable adjustments to improve Safer Pathway.  Different elements of Safer Pathway are regularly monitored by relevant agencies.
  • Evaluation provides independent assessment of how effectively Safer Pathway is being implemented and achieving outcomes.
  • An independent evaluation of Safer Pathway was completed in 2017. The ARTD Safer Pathway Evaluation Report (PDF, 1.8 MB) contains findings on Safer Pathway’s implementation. It also contains recommendations on improving key components of Safer Pathway.
  • Recommendations from the evaluation are being implemented by responsible agencies to strengthen Safer Pathway.

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Last updated:

20 Nov 2023