ComVoices, a network of national social service providers, has today written to the Prime Minister and the Social Development Minister calling on them to halt the current process which will see all MSD-contracted providers required to share personal client information from 1 July 2017.
The letter to ministers follows:
16 March 2017
Rt Hon Bill English, Prime Minister
Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Social Development, Minister for Children
Hon Amy Adams, Minister Responsible for Social Investment
Hon Alfred Ngaro MP, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Individual Client Level Data: call to halt the current process
I wrote to you on 6 March with a proposal to work together to develop a robust and secure information system. That letter also asked you to call off the timeframe that would see all MSD contracted providers required to gather and share individual client data from 1 July 2017.
We have seen the announcement from MSD, issued yesterday, that this requirement will be deferred for specialist sexual violence services. We are pleased to see recognition of the difficulties of collecting and sharing data from sexual violence victims. We also note that MSD has said, in effect, that it does not yet have a safe and secure information system.
MSD, and ministers, are wrong to think that special considerations are limited to sexual violence services.
Many clients of social services have concerns about safety and confidentiality. Services such as problem gambling and other forms of addiction, mental health, suicide prevention, family violence and counselling all deal with sensitive information on vulnerable clients and this makes providing identifiable personal information to government agencies problematic at best and risky at worst.
Further, you should be aware that this decision does not protect all victims of sexual violence. Many do not access specialist services but seek help from other social services agencies, for a variety of reasons. These sexual violence victims will be caught up in the data sharing exercise.
We have already asked ministers to pause and allow government and providers to work through the issues that are of concern. This decision on sexual violence services shows this is possible and we are calling on the government to extend this to all social services.
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