Safety over privacy: Family violence, information sharing and mental health care

Kathy Sougias, Sabin Fernbacher, Izaak Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Objective: This article aims to provide an update on information sharing practices in mental health services, in light of recent inter-sectoral family violence reforms in Victoria. We hope that this article will help increase familiarity with this contemporary best practice and improve clinician confidence in its application. Method: We use three case scenarios to illustrate the application of these relatively new family violence frameworks in mental health services, with a focus on approaches to information sharing. Results: The duty to respect the privacy of patients and their families sometimes comes into conflict with the duty to protect patients and their families from the risk of harm. Our case scenarios highlight situations where these conflicting duties need to be weighed and balanced, among other ethical considerations. Conclusions: Mental health services have an ethical and legal responsibility to share information where it will enhance the safety of victim survivors of family violence, whether they are the primary client of the service or not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-607
Number of pages4
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Family violence
  • information sharing
  • mental health services
  • privacy
  • risk assessment with ethics

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