The horrific murder of Braydn Dillon at the hands of his father has spurred a push for legal changes to allow domestic and family violence agencies to share more information with each other to better protect victim-survivors.
Braydn was nine years old when he was beaten to death by his father in 2016. The ACT Coroner found there had been a number of “sliding door moments” where more intervention and protection could have occurred.
This included allowing more information sharing between domestic and family violence agencies to enable them to have the full picture when evaluating the risk of harm to a victim-survivor.
Movement is now occurring on this recommendation, with Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Minister Yvette Berry introducing the Domestic Violence Agencies (Information Sharing) Amendment Bill 2023 to the Legislative Assembly.
“[The] inquest into Braydn’s death gave insight into a fragmented response system,” she said.
“[It] identified the ACT’s systems response to domestic and family violence has been impeded by a lack of information sharing.
“This bill continues this government’s work to improve our systems response, to ensure a tragedy like that of Braydn Dillon never happens again.”
The proposed legislation is focused around four key principles: the safety of the victim-survivor is prioritised, all agencies must get a person’s consent before sharing their details with other agencies (except in exceptional circumstances), information must only be used for protection purposes, and the agencies should be upskilled in identifying and managing the risk of violence to a person.
“It’s often the case that different individuals and agencies hold small pieces of information about a person’s experience of violence or abuse, but it is only when these pieces of information are brought together that a full picture of the circumstances and domestic and family violence risk is built,” Ms Berry said.
It’s hoped this change will allow agencies to better develop and understand the full profile of abuse risk to a person and lead to a more effective systems response.
At the initial stage, it’s suggested only ACT Government agencies can share information with each other. Ms Berry would be able to add other agencies, including community partners, to the list at a later date.
The bill would also create the position of an Information Sharing Coordinator to provide oversight and guidance to agencies using the scheme and foster a collaborative and information-sharing culture in Canberra.
The scheme would be independently reviewed after two years of operation.
“Domestic violence continues to be a pervasive evil in our society … At its heart, this [proposed] scheme promotes the safety and protection, and the right to life, of victim-survivors of domestic and family violence,” Ms Berry said.