POLICY FOR MANAGEMENT OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Our practice is managed according to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency. South Eastern Counselling and Psychology is committed to protecting your privacy in accordance with the national privacy principles of the Amendment Act of 2001 and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) set out in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
The Privacy Act is designed to give individuals the right to be more informed and have more control over the manner in which their personal information is collected, used, disclosed and stored.
Client files are held securely, either in hard copy format in a secure filing cabinet, or electronically on password protected practice management software. Files are accessible by your psychologist and authorised personnel of the practice only. The information on each file includes personal information such as name, address, contact phone numbers, medical history, and other personal information collected as part of providing the psychological service.
How clients’ personal information is collected
A client’s personal information is collected in a number of ways during psychological consultation with South Eastern Counselling and Psychology, including when the client provides information directly to us using hardcopy forms; correspondence via email; or when the client interacts directly with South Eastern Counselling and Psychology personnel such as the Practice Manager. Or, when other health practitioners provide personal information to South Eastern Counselling And Psychology via referrals, correspondence and medical reports.
Consequence of not providing personal information
Purpose of holding personal information
A client’s personal information is gathered and used for the purpose of providing psychology services, which includes assessing, diagnosing, and treating a client’s presenting issue. The personal information is retained to document what happens during sessions and enables the psychologist to provide a relevant and informed psychological service.
Disclosure of personal information
Clients’ personal information will remain confidential except when:
1. it is subpoenaed by a court, or disclosure is otherwise required or authorised by law; or
2. failure to disclose the information would in the reasonable belief of South Eastern Counselling and Psychology place a client or another person at serious risk to life, health, or safety; or
3. the client’s prior approval has been obtained to:
a) provide a written report to another agency or professional, e.g. a GP or a lawyer; or
b) discuss the material with another person, e.g. a parent, employer, health provider, or third party funder; or
c) disclose the information in another way; or
d) disclose to another professional or agency (e.g. your GP) and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose which is directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected.
A client’s personal information is not disclosed to overseas recipients unless the client consents or such disclosure is otherwise required by law.
Clients’ personal information will not be used, sold, rented, or disclosed for any other purpose.
If unauthorised access, disclosure, or loss of a client’s personal information occurs South Eastern Counselling and Psychology will support and comply with the appropriate authrorities and their processes to minimise and investigate the event. Clients will be kept informed as necessary .
Requests for access and correction to client information
At any stage clients may request to see and correct the personal information about them kept on file. Depending on the information requested, the psychologist may discuss the contents with them and/or give them a copy, subject to the exceptions in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). If satisfied that personal information is inaccurate, out of date or incomplete, reasonable steps will be taken in the circumstances to ensure that this information is corrected. All requests by clients for access to or correction of personal information held about them should be lodged with the relevant psychologist at South Eastern Counselling and Psychology. These requests will be responded to in writing within 30 days, and an appointment will be made if necessary for clarification purposes.
If clients have a concern about the management of their personal information, they may inform their psychologist or personnel of South Eastern Counselling and Psychology. Upon request they can obtain a copy of the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe their rights and how their personal information should be handled. Ultimately, if clients wish to lodge a formal complaint about the use of, disclosure of, or access to, their personal information, they may do so with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by phone on 1300 363 992, online at https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-complaints/lodge-a-privacy-complaint-with-us
or by post to: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001.
Last updated August 2023.