|Commitment to privacy
Gymea Lily Psychotherapy Centre (GLPC) respects your personal details and your rights to privacy. GLPC is bound by the National Privacy Principles. This Policy Statement outlines how we gather personal information and how we maintain, use and protect that information.
|What we collect
In most circumstances, we only collect personal information if it is necessary for one or more of our functions or activities. We will tell you, in most circumstances, why we are collecting your personal information and how we intend to use it. The type of personal information we are likely to collect is your contact details. We may also keep clinical records of our contact with you. Sometimes we give questionnaires and are asked to write letters and reports. Letters and reports are only written with your consent.
|How we use personal information
We use your personal details so that we can contact you. If we need to disclose your personal information to another party we require you to sign an Information Consent Release Form. (Click hyperlink then print)
|Security access and complaints
We regard the security of your personal information as a priority and have in place a number of physical and electronic measures to protect it. The internet is not a secure environment and although all reasonable steps are taken to protect your security, we cannot guarantee the security of information you provide to us via our web site. We do not use ‘cookies’ on our web site. No personal data is stored on our web site. We do not collect ‘clickstream’ data. In most circumstances you have the right to access any personal information we collect and hold about you and to have it corrected if it is wrong. Please contact your therapist at the centre (contact details at the end of this statement) if you wish to access or update your personal information, or if you have a complaint about how we have handled your details.
|Exemptions we rely on
To the extent that it applies, GLPC intends to rely on the employer exemption relating to employee records. We have adopted a number of measures designed to protect the privacy of our employees. We may also be entitled to rely upon the exemption for disclosing personal information.
|Key privacy issues for psychologists to consider (from Inpsych, Dec 2001)|
|The following key issues will give you an idea of how the Privacy Act affects the work of psychologists in private practice.|
|A client states: ‘I think you got my diagnosis wrong, I want to change my file.’
A client believing that the diagnosis provided by a psychologist to be wrong is NOT sufficient reason to record a change to his or her file. The National Privacy Principle (NPP) 6.5 requires the individual to establish that the information is not accurate, complete and up-to-date. However, if there is disagreement between the psychologist and the client about the accuracy of the information held, NPP 6.6 states that if the client asks the psychologist to associate with the information a statement claiming that the information is not accurate, complete or up-to-date, the psychologist must take steps to do so.
|A client (or potential client) asks: ‘What is your policy on the management of your clients’ personal information?’
Each organisation or psychologist in private practice, must prepare a concise statement which indicates their policy on management of the clients’ personal information. See our Privacy Statement.
|A parent of a young client states: ‘I would like to see my 15 year-old daughter’s file, because I believe it is now available to me under the Privacy Act.’
Not necessarily. NPP 6 (Access & Correction) applies only to individuals accessing (or correcting) information about themselves. Under NPP 2.4 a psychologist may disclose health information about a client to the client’s parents if:
a) the client is incapable of giving consent, OR cannot communicate consent, AND
b) i. the psychologist is satisfied that disclosure is necessary to provide appropriate care of treatment of the client, or
ii. the disclosure is made for compassionate reasons AND
c) the disclosure is not to any wish
i. expressed by the client before the client became able to communicate concern AND
ii. of which the psychologist is aware, AND
d) The disclosure is limited to the extent reasonable and necessary for a purpose mentioned in b).
So, although the parent may want to see the file, they do not have an absolute right to see it.
|A client says to you: ‘Centrelink paid for your report about me, but I would like a copy for my records.’
Clients will be entitled to a copy of personal information held about them, even if it is initially paid for by another party.
|You receive a call from the police who want information about one of your clients. They inform you that under NPP 2.1 h, you should tell them.
NPP 2.1 h in part refers to disclosure of information for the prevention, detection, prosecution or punishment of criminal offences. However, there is a crucial footnote to NPP 2.1 h, Note 2, which states:
“Sub clause 2.1 does not override any existing legal obligations not to disclose personal information. Nothing in sub clause 2.1 requires an organisation to disclose personal information: an organisation is always entitled not to disclose personal information in the absence of a legal obligation to disclose it.”
So, in this case, unless there was an overriding legal obligation to disclose (see B6 of the APS Code of Ethics), the police would require a search warrant to obtain the information.
|An ex-client who came to you for couples therapy says she wants a copy of the notes you made.
Where providing access to information would have an unreasonable impact upon the privacy of other individuals, the psychologist may refuse access (NPP 6.1c). Hence the psychologist may release information the pertains solely to the ex-client making the request, but may withhold information about the other party in the “couples therapy”. However, the OFPC would expect that psychologists find out whether the third party affected would consent to the release of this information, and explore possible options to meet the request of the client.
|A client from three years ago demands that you destroy her file. She believes the information you hold is stopping her from gaining employment.
The principle on Data Security, NPP 4.2, states that a psychologist must take reasonable steps to destroy or permanently de-identify personal information if it is no longer needed for any purpose which the information may be used or disclosed under NPP 2. However, the APS Code of Ethics requires that records be kept (in relation to adult clients) for a minimum of five years unless legal requirements specify otherwise (note that the period of time for which psychologists must keep client records is under review and may increase to a minimum of seven years for adult clients). This requirement would probably counter the possibility that it is no longer needed.
|What happens if the family of a client who has died wants to see the file?
The Privacy Act applies to a “natural person” and makes no reference to a deceased person. As NPP 6 would not apply to the deceased person and the psychologist has no obligation to disclose the deceased client’s file to the family members .