How we manage your privacy
Better Place Australia Mediation and Counselling Victoria is committed to ensuring the privacy of its clients. We are also bound by the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 which sets out a number of principles to protect your personal information.
You are entitled to:
- Know why your personal information is being collected, how it is managed and how it will be used
- Know which organisations will be given your personal information
- Be assured those organisations will only use your information for the purposes they told you about
- Know how to make a complaint about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles
- Know how to ask for access to your records and have inaccuracies corrected.
What information do we collect?
In order to work effectively with you we need to collect:
- Your name, address, phone numbers, email address and other contact details you give us
- Documents that you provide (e.g. intervention orders)
- Case notes taken by us during your initial interview and during subsequent mediation/conciliation or counselling sessions
- All correspondence with you (electronic or hard copy)
- Referral information received from other programs within our organisation
- Notes taken by your case manager (with your permission) in conversation with third parties (e.g. solicitors).
We may also need to collect, store and use sensitive personal information about you such as criminal records or other details you may want to keep confidential. When you telephone us or write to us you don’t need to tell us who you are, you can use another name or remain anonymous. But giving us your real name may help us when looking into your concerns. Once you have engaged us to provide services, it would be impracticable for us to deliver the vast bulk of our services to you if you are not identified.
Why do we collect information?
We ask for this information so we may:
- provide you with the service or support options most appropriate to your needs
- administer and manage those services including billing and debt collection
- improve our services and overall service delivery through research and/ or participation in research projects (with your written permission)
- send you marketing information including direct marketing information.
Do we disclose this information?
It is a part of our service delivery contracts with the Department of Social Services (DSS) that we report some client details BUT these details are non-identifiable and used to aid DSS in their assessment of the effectiveness of their Family Support Program.
No other information will be disclosed to any other organisation or individual without your written permission. This includes only disclosing your sensitive information with your consent or as required by law. Sensitive information includes health information.
In exceptional circumstances there may be protective or safety concerns that oblige us under law to breach confidentiality. Your case manager will inform you more fully of these limits.
When we collect your personal information, or at a time after collection, we may contact you via direct marketing initiatives. You can opt out of these direct marketing initiatives at the time of collection or at any later time by either clicking the unsubscribe button on any direct marketing email or by contacting the Privacy Officer using the contact details below. Opting out of direct marketing will not affect any other services we are providing to you at the time of opting out or any future services.
How do we store your information?
A file number is created for each case. All written information is stored in a file identified only by file number. A separate record is used to match client names with file numbers.
Computer files with personal details and session records are kept in a secure client database with limited designated access. We do not use any overseas or trans-border servers or Cloud servers.
If any contact (with your written permission) is video or audio taped, it’s kept locked and erased two months from last use.
Who has access to this information and how is it protected?
- Your case manager and any other staff working directly on your case
- Administrative staff for the preparation of letters, administration and data entry
- Periodically a Team Leader and/or senior management may access your file during a file management audit process to ensure security policies are complied with.
You should also know that:
- All Better Place Australia staff are bound by a confidentiality policy
- In addition to building and office security, written or taped records are stored in a locked file room.
- Electronic systems are protected by passwords and a firewall to stop unauthorised internal or external access.
- Better Place Australia does not give your information to people overseas.
How do you know if your information is correct?
We record only what you tell us or give us in writing as your personal details. We take all reasonable precautions to ensure the information is accurate and complete for our purposes however we rely on you to inform us if there are any changes that we need to know about. If you think that some of the personal information we hold is inaccurate, then contact the Privacy Officer on the details below for access to your personal information.
Can you access your personal file?
You have the right to access your personal information subject to some legal exceptions. For example, you cannot access those case notes that have been provided by another party. If we cannot provide access to your personal information, we will consider whether a mutually agreed intermediary would allow sufficient access to meet your needs and ours. There is no charge for accessing your personal information.
How long do we keep your information?
By law we are required to securely retain your file for seven years from the last date of contact with you before destroying it. If any of your children have attended the Centre for our services, the file will be kept until the youngest of those children turns 25 years of age and then be destroyed. If you have sent us unsolicited information then it will be dealt with in accordance with the Privacy Act, and may be destroyed.
What do you do if you think there has been a breach of your privacy?
You can either:
- Phone, (03) 9556 5333, or write to the Privacy Officer, Executive Manager Quality and Service Development, Better Place Australia Mediation and Counselling Victoria, PO Box 2131, Moorabbin, VIC 3189
- Contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by email: enquiries@oaic,gov.au, or by phone: 1300 363 992, or by fax: +61 2 9284 9666 or online: https://forms.business.gov.au/aba/oaic/privacy-complaint-/
All complaints are handled by us within 30 days, during which time we speak to you on the telephone and may opt to meet with you face-to-face to resolve your concerns.