Privacy and Confidentiality
We understand privacy and confidentiality is of utmost importance when providing effective and responsible service.
Collecting information about you
To provide you with an effective service, Relationships Australia NT collects and records personal information from you, that is relevant to your current situation. We only collect information that is necessary to provide an effective and responsible service, in relation to the problems you face.
We gather this information from you during intake, service delivery, education, counselling, mediation and program evaluation. Sometimes, we also collect information or record details because the funding agency requires this information for their records of our service provision.
You do not have to give all of your personal information or you may want to remain anonymous.
However, if you do want to withhold information, subsequently:
- Some services cannot be provided to you, or
- A limited service may be provided (due to the lack of or missing information).
Your practitioner will advise which services cannot proceed without you identifying yourself.
Keeping your information private
Information is kept on file so we can maintain an accurate record of what services we provide to you. All information we collect from you is stored in physically and / or electronically locked places. Relationships Australia NT takes this responsibility seriously and adheres to Australian Privacy Principles. More details are available from our staff about the ways we secure your records.
Access to information
Information about you can only be viewed by authorised persons and all staff sign a statement of confidentiality. As a client, you may access information about you kept on file, unless it would be inappropriate to do so. Examples of inappropriate access may be where:
- Other parties in the information do not or cannot consent to access
- It would have an unreasonable impact upon the privacy of other individuals
- Access may result in a threat to life or harm to health
- The relevant legislation demands otherwise
- Fees may apply for access. Your practitioner can discuss with you appropriate access and associated fees or procedures.
The limits of confidentiality
Our practitioners are committed to providing you with a confidential service. All personal information gathered during the provision of the services will remain confidential except where there are legal obligations or safety concerns.
Specifically confidentially is not maintained when:
- Your service file is subpoenaed by a court, see Confidentiality under the Family Law Act (1975)
- Failure to disclose the information would place you or another person at serious and imminent risk
- Your prior approval has been obtained to:
- Provide a written report to another professional or
- agency e.g. a GP or lawyer
- Discuss the material with another person, for example, a parent or employer
- If disclosure is required or authorised by law particularly in relation to the safety and well-being of children.
The Family Law Act (1975)
Many Relationships Australia NT services are protected as confidential under the Family Law Act (1975) and subsequent amendments. This means that within the limits listed in the previous section, evidence of anything said in a session provided under this Act cannot be admitted as evidence in any family court matter. Practitioners are also obliged to assist any Independent Children’s Lawyer appointed under S10H to represent children and promote their best interest in family law matters if requested. Your practitioner will advise you when sessions are protected in this way.
The safety and well-being of children and young people
Relationships Australia NT follows the NT Government Information Sharing Guidelines to promote the safety and well-being of children, young people and their families. This means we work closely with other organisations to provide integrated and coordinated support to you and your family. We may be requested or make a request to share information with another organisation.
We will only share information if doing so would protect the safety and well-being of children and young people. If this occurs we would seek informed consent, unless it unsafe to do so. If you do not give consent for information to be shared, the organisation may decide to share the information without your consent if not sharing would meant that a child, young person or a member of your family would be at risk of serious harm, abuse or neglect, or pose a risk to their own or public safety.
Northern Territory laws also require our staff to notify a prescribed child protection authority if we have reasonable grounds for suspecting child abuse or neglect.
Provision of information to funding bodies
Relationships Australia NT services are funded or subsidised by bodies including the Attorney-General’s Department, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Northern Territory Government. The provision of services funded through these bodies is reliant on the reports and analysis of the effectiveness of our services. Relationships Australia NT regularly provides data to the relevant funding body in relation to the service we provide to you.
Our funding bodies may also request or even require us to provide information about service use, for statistical or research purposes, as a condition of their funding. We will provide information in accordance with contracts set out by funding bodies. Your practitioner can advise if the information is provided to funding bodies and, if so, what information is provided.
Concerns about privacy
If you have a concern about the management of your personal information, please inform the relevant Director of Service. This person’s name can be obtained from reception. Upon request, you can obtain a copy of the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe your rights and how your information should be handled.
Ultimately, if you wish to lodge a formal complaint about the use of, or access to your personal information, you may do so with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by calling 1300 363 992, or send your complaint in writing to GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001.