Collection and Use of Information
Collecting Protégé Information
- Any information obtained by Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy about protégés, both past and present, will be regarded as confidential and must not be used for any purpose other than that for which it is given.
- A protégé will be advised and made aware of what information is kept about him/her, why it is kept and who has access to it.
- Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy will only collect protégé information that is directly relevant to effective citizen advocacy practice.
- All staff, volunteers and Management Committee members of Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy will sign a confidentiality declaration indicating that they understand the confidentiality and privacy requirements to which their work is subject.
Information Disclosure and Consent
- Each protégé has the right to access any information that Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy keeps about him/her. Any person except the protégé’s citizen advocate and citizen advocacy office staff must obtain consent from the protégé before obtaining access to the protégé’s file.
- Before any identifying information is disclosed to any individual or organisation other than Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy, consent must be obtained from the protégé. If information of a sensitive nature must be disclosed in order to reach the outcome requested by the protégé, then written consent must be obtained from the protégé (eg a protégé wishes information about their case to be provided to the media).
- If another organisation wishes to make contact with a protégé, our agency may either invite the protégé to contact the organisation or obtain consent from the protégé to provide relevant information.
- Identifying information in a protégé’s file must not be used for the purpose of research without written consent from the protégé.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
- Statistics may be gathered about protégés for the purposes of planning, accountability and systemic advocacy. However, this information will be used sensitively and in a manner that does not identify individuals.
- Case studies used for the purpose of community education will not contain information which will cause a protégé to be identified (ie identifying information may be altered to protect the privacy of the protégé). If there is any concern that such information might identify an individual, Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy will seek the protégé’s consent.
From time to time, a citizen advocate may need to seek independent professional consultation (Advocate Associates) to assist protégés in achieving the outcome they wish. Identifying information should not generally be given to the professional consultant. However, if providing such information is essential, citizen advocates should seek the consent of the protégé. A professional supervisor should be given a copy of this policy and agree to abide by it.
If a protégé’s file is ordered by a subpoena, the protégé will be notified as soon as possible. Only information ordered by subpoena will be released. In this instance, the information may be photocopied.
There may be an exception to confidentiality where Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy reasonably believes that the use of disclosure is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the individual’s life, health or safety or, a serious threat to public health or safety.
A decision to disclose information to seek help or protect the protégé will pay due regard to the particular protégé’s capacity to make decisions.
Any need to disclose protégé information on the basis of necessity should be discussed with the President of Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy wherever possible.
Should a complaint occur about the operation of Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy, a delegated member of the Management Committee may have access to the nominated protégé’s file in order that the Management Committee member can participate in the resolution of the complaint.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy staff may be required by legislation to disclose relevant protégé information to the Department of Social Services (or any equivalent body as specified by legislation) if that paid staff member has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of harm and that those grounds arise during the course of or from that person’s work.
Funding Body’s Access
Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy is required to make files available to the government funding body for auditing purposes if the funding contract stipulates this. Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy will ensure that government funding body obtain permission from individual protégés before making any files available.
Treatment of Files
- A file will be created for each new protégé being recruited by Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy.
- Files will not be duplicated, except where sections of a file have been requested by subpoena
- Files remain the property of Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy. However, copy can be made of any or all information for the protégé on request.
- A protégé’s file will be placed into secure storage upon the protégé ending their association with our agency. Such files will be destroyed after five years.
Maintenance of Files
- Documentation should contain objective information. Care should be taken with the choice of language used.
- Protégé files should contain the originals of incoming documents and copies of any outgoing correspondence.
- All incoming and outgoing correspondence must be dated.
- Protégé files will be filed in lockable cabinets.
- Information kept on computer should be kept in a secure fashion.
- Only citizen advocacy staff or the citizen advocate associated with a particular protégé may have access to protégé files. General volunteers or students on placement may access specific files under supervision of citizen advocacy staff.
- A protégé file should not be removed from the office unless special circumstances prevail and permission is first sought from the Coordinator.
Personal Privacy and Dignity
In all decisions and dealings of Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy, citizen advocacy staff will ensure that people with disability are treated with dignity and respect.
Sunshine Coast Citizen Advocacy will respect protégé’s rights to personal privacy (eg in personal hygiene tasks).
Information Privacy Principles, Australian Government, Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Public Sector Information Sheet – Information Privacy, http://www.privacy.gov.au/publications/ipps.pdf
Privacy Act 1988 (latest version), including Information Privacy Principles, ComLaw, https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/