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Privacy and Confidentiality Policy

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for all workers of Silky Oaks Children’s Haven (Silky Oaks) so they are aware of privacy and confidentiality considerations in relation to all stakeholders of the organisation. It provides an outline of Silky Oaks legal obligations and ethical expectations in relation to privacy and confidentiality.

 

Policy

Confidentiality is defined as ensuring that information gained from our clients, stakeholders and workers is kept private, and only those workers who need to access the information for therapeutic or legitimate work related purposes will do so.

Silky Oaks has a responsibility to treat clients and workers with dignity, and respect their right to privacy and confidentiality by protecting them from unfair or unauthorised use of personal/sensitive information. Our procedures support privacy and confidentiality in collecting, storing, disclosing and disposing of client and worker personal information.

By necessity, personal and private information is disclosed in a professional working relationship and through being a worker at Silky Oaks. Silky Oaks works within best practice guidelines which ensures clients, stakeholders and government agencies that information provided within the organisation will remain private and confidential as required by the Privacy Act 1988 and specific funding body service agreements. Our record keeping practices comply with the Recordkeeping Guide for Funded Non-Government Organisations provided by the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.

Specifically, in relation to client practice, Silky Oaks ensures that all information collected will be considered private and confidential and will not be disclosed to others without the client’s prior knowledge or consent. This information is collected as a way to ensure that there is a comprehensive record of the client’s time with Silky Oaks and also to meet the requirements of the service agreement.

There are however limits to this confidentiality.

These limitations are:

  • The risk of safety, or potential of harm, to self, children or a third party
  • Files subpoenaed by courts
  • Failing to report would result in serious criminal activity or property damage.

Clients and workers will be advised of these limitations at the commencement of any engagement and if safe for the worker to do so, will be advised when a notification occurs.

If a worker discloses a client’s personal information to a third party without the client’s or legal representative’s permission, they will be in breach of their signed confidentiality agreement and disciplinary action will be taken which could result in termination.

Silky Oaks welcomes a client’s or worker’s choice to make a complaint or provide feedback if they deem their privacy or confidentiality has been breached. For more information on how to file a complaint, or provide feedback refer to the Feedback and Complaint Policy.

A past or current client may at any time and at any age request access to the information which is held by Silky Oaks and relates to them and their care

 

Legislative Context

Privacy Act 1988

 

Definitions

Confidentiality: A person has the legal right to control the use and disclosure of information entrusted by him or her to another when the information is confidential in character and the information is disclosed in circumstances under which the other person is under an obligation to confidence (Mackie, 1996:3).

Privacy: There is no statutory definition of privacy in Australia

The Australian Law Review Commission has suggested that privacy can be divided into some separate, but related concepts:

  • Information privacy, which involves the establishment of rules governing the collection and handling of personal data such as credit information, and medical and government records. It is also known as “data protection”;
  • Bodily privacy, which concerns the protection of people’s physical selves against invasive procedures such as genetic tests, drug testing and cavity searches;
  • Privacy of communications, which covers the security and privacy of mail, telephones, e-mail and other forms of communication; and
  • Territorial privacy, which concerns the setting of limits on intrusion into the domestic and other environments such as the workplace or public space. This includes searches, video surveillance and ID checks.

Worker: any person who carries out work for an organisation, including work as an employee, contractor, subcontractor, self-employed person, outworker, apprentice or trainee, work experience student, employee of a labour hire company and volunteers.

Third Party: A third party is a person or group besides the two primarily involved in a situation, for example, first party is client, second party relevant staff members, third party is any person who is not a current Silky Oaks employee who the information is not relevant to.