New Zealand Law Society

Navigation menu

Commissioner endorses vulnerable children information sharing

24 August 2016

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says agencies should not be concerned about breaking privacy laws when it comes to information about a current or future danger to vulnerable children.

photo of John Edwards 
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards. 

"They should already be sharing information and not be waiting for the law reform to take effect," he says.

Mr Edwards says he supports the Government's message that any information about a current or future danger to a child needs to be shared between the appropriate agencies.

He says he would be very concerned if misperceptions about privacy laws are getting in the way of preventing harm to children, but is in no doubt that this need not be so.

"Whatever changes to law are proposed, it is essential that Ministers and others involved in preventing harm to children continue to reassure teachers, doctors, nurses, midwives, child care workers and anyone else who has information about a child at risk, that they will not be in breach of privacy laws, and cannot be subject to any liability where they notify a police officer or social worker about any child or young person who has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally or sexually), ill-treated, abused, neglected, or deprived," Mr Edwards' statement says.

He says that is the law now, and it is supported by the Privacy Act 1993 in its current form.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019