“Protecting the privacy of health information is an integral part of providing quality health care” (WHO)
This policy applies to the whole of ACON, the Board, staff (including all levels of management), volunteers and contracted service partners. Client confidentiality has been an underpinning philosophy and foundation of ACON’s work since our inception in 1985. ACON supports the spirit of intent and complies with and where possible strives to exceed the requirements of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000.
Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000
The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 which amends the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, sets out your rights and ACON’s responsibility relating to any personal information held about you as an individual who uses ACON’s services. This policy does not apply to information held by ACON about staff or volunteers. Different legislation applies to staff and volunteer records.
The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 (hereafter referred to as the Act) which includes the National Privacy Principles sets out how private sector organisations such as ACON should collect, keep, use and disclose personal information. ACON complies with and wherever possible strives to exceed the requirements of the Act. ACON complies with all of the National Privacy Principles.
The Act provides you as an individual with the right to know why ACON holds your personal information, what information is held about you, how ACON will use that information and under what circumstances your personal information may be divulged to others. You have the right to ask to see your personal information and for it to be changed or altered if incorrect or out of date. Under special circumstances ACON may refuse to allow you to see information held about you, in doing so, ACON in accordance with the Act is required to explain why. The Act stipulates that you may make a complaint if you think your information is not used or held appropriately and in accordance with the Act.
Personal information includes such things as your full name, date of birth, gender and address and other contact details. The Act recognises that information of a more sensitive nature may be collected by organisations such as ACON in order to provide you with, or refer you to particular services. Sensitive information is a subset of personal information. It means information or opinion about an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record or health information about an individual
ACON will collect only the information, which is necessary to provide you with the highest standard of service.
- We will only collect information about you with your consent and by lawful means.
- When we collect your information you will be told what we will do with it and to whom it may be disclosed.
- Information about you will not be used in any way without your consent or other than for the reasons for which it was collected.
Where we have obtained information about you from someone other than yourself, we will take all reasonable steps to inform you about who we are, what we intend to do with your information, how you may access it and to whom it may be disclosed. In other words where possible we will inform you of what will happen to your information as if we had collected it from you ourselves.
Use and Disclosure
Information about you will only be used or disclosed to others by ACON in ways which meet your expectations or are required by law. We will only use or disclose your personal information for a purpose other than the primary purpose for which it was collected if:
- the secondary purpose of collection is related to the primary purpose, and
- you would reasonably expect us to use or disclose information for that secondary purpose, or
- you have given permission for its use or disclosure
We will only use your information for the purpose of service promotion such as newsletters, pamphlets or fundraising providing you have given us permission to do so.We will only use or disclose your information without your consent, when:
- it is in the interest of an individual’s health, life or safety, or
- in the interest of public health or safety, or
- we are required or authorised to do so by law
We may disclose health information about you to a person responsible for you such as a legally appointed guardian.
ACON will take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information collected, used or disclosed about you is as appropriate, accurate and as current as possible.
ACON undertakes to ensure that all personal information is kept in a secure place or manner. We will take all reasonable steps to protect your information from misuse, loss, unauthorised or unnecessary access, alteration or disclosure. ACON undertakes to destroy or de-identify your personal information when it is no longer required for any purpose by you or by law.
Access and Correction
The only staff or volunteers who may access your information can do so only in the performance of their duties in the provision of a service to you or specifically at your request. Staff or volunteers may not divulge any identifying information about you to each other except that, which is necessary for them to do so in the performance of their duties. ACON will provide you with access to personal information it holds about you upon your request. In some circumstances it may be inappropriate for ACON to comply with your request, such as where someone else’s privacy may be seriously breached, or where the request poses a threat to an individual’s health or safety. In such case, if we withhold access we will provide you with the reason for doing so. At your request we will correct any out-of-date or inaccurate information. We will do this either over the phone or face-to-face. You may arrange an appointment to view your personal information or you may request a written copy. To obtain access to, or copies of, or to correct or up-date your personal, sensitive, information you will need to complete a ‘Personal Information Inquiry’ form. To change just your contact details you will need to complete a ‘Change of Address’ form. Copies of both of these forms may be obtained either by telephoning or writing to us or by down-loading them from our web-site. Our contact details are at the end of this document.
ACON does not use identifiers or reference numbers assigned by other organisations or government departments or services. Nor does ACON assign identifiers or reference to personal information records except where we have obtained your approval to do so, such as membership numbers or client case file numbers. ACON does not release membership or client case file numbers to other organisations. Nor do we divulge any information that may in any way identify a particular individual to other organisations, or to ACON staff or volunteers.
Wherever practicable and lawful, and if you want to, we will provide you the option of interacting with ACON anonymously.
Transborder Data Flows
ACON will only send your information to a third party in a foreign country with your prior consent or if the information about you has protection substantially similar to the National Privacy Principles outlined in the Act.
ACON will not collect sensitive information about you without your consent unless, the collection is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to health or life, or the collection is required by law. ACON in some instances may collect information without an individual’s consent if the person concerned is physically or legally incapable of giving consent. ACON may also collect sensitive information without consent in accordance with rules established by competent health or medical bodies that deal with the obligations of professional confidentiality eg client case notes kept about counselling sessions with professionally recognised psychotherapists or session case notes kept by enhanced care project staff.
- Producer (02) 9206 2069.
- ACON Sydney – (02) 9206 2000
- Northern Rivers – (02) 6622 1555
- Hunter/Mid North Coast – (02) 4927 6808
- Mid North Coast Outreach – (02) 6584 0943
- Illawarra – (02) 4226 1163
- SWOP – (02) 9319 4866
- Positive Living Centre (PLC) – (02) 9699 8756
- The Luncheon Club – (02) 9206 2000
The Privacy Commissioner’s web-site contains detailed information on privacy obligations including a copy of the Privacy Act http://www.privacy.gov.au and the Guidelines On Privacy In The Private Health Sector http://www.privacy.gov.au/health/guidelines/ set out the standards for collecting, storing, using and disclosing personal information.