How we handle personal information

How we handle personal information

We are committed to protecting your privacy and ensuring the security of your information, in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and the Health Records Act 2001.

What we do

We provide information and advocacy to people on compulsory treatment orders. We support people to have a say in their assessment, treatment and recovery and to understand and act on their rights.

What personal and health information we collect

Personal information is information that is recorded in any form that relates to an identifiable living person.  Health information is information that relates to an identifiable living or deceased person and concerns their health, disability or genetic make-up.

We collect information that we need to provide our services and to run our organisation.

The main kinds of information we collect are:

  • information about clients’ health issues and treatment 
  • education and employment history from people who work for us, or apply to work for us
  • contact details of our clients, staff, contractors and members of the public
  • security footage of some of our offices.

Generally, we collect personal and health information about you directly from you. With your consent, sometimes we will also collect personal and health information about you from other sources, such as health services.

When we collect personal and health information directly from you, we will take reasonable steps to advise you of:

  • what information is being sought
  • for what purpose the information is being sought
  • whether any law requires its collection
  • the main consequences for you, if any, of not providing us with the information.

We only collect sensitive information (such as racial or ethnic origin and sexual preferences) if it is relevant to our work and if we either have your consent or are required by law to collect the information.

How we use personal and health information

The main ways we use personal and health information are to:

  • provide information and advocacy services to clients
  • assess whether people are eligible for our services
  • answer enquiries and resolve complaints
  • provide updates on our publications and services
  • recruit and manage staff
  • meet our workplace safety obligations.

We also use this information, after removing identifying details, to meet our reporting obligations.

When we disclose personal and health information

We may disclose information to third parties as part of our advocacy for clients.

Client information can only be disclosed to third parties outside the Independent Mental Health Advocacy team in the following circumstances:

  • with your consent;
  • where Independent Mental Health Advocacy reasonably believes that use or disclosure is necessary to lessen or prevent a:
    • serious and imminent threat to an individual’s life, health, safety or welfare; or
    • serious threat to public health, public safety or public welfare; or
  • if disclosure is compelled by law.

How we ensure the quality of personal and health information recorded

We take reasonable steps to ensure the information we have about individuals is accurate, complete and current.

Where possible, we check the accuracy of information before we use it.

How we keep personal and health information safe

We do our best to protect information from loss, misuse, unauthorised access, modification and disclosure. To do this we use procedural, physical and software safeguards.

We limit and record access to our buildings and systems. We only use external information storage partners when we are confident they will protect the information as well as we can.

We require our staff to handle information with care and access only what they need to do their job. We support this with usage policies, information barriers and access controls.

We destroy or de-identify information when it is no longer required. We do this in accordance with our obligations under the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic).

Anonymous services

People can be anonymous when contacting us, but it may limit the level of service we can provide.

We use unique identifiers

We create a client number for people to whom we provide certain services. This helps us keep a record of the services we provide and make appropriate referrals. We do not share client numbers with any other agency.

How you can access and correct your personal information

You can contact us to request access to your personal information. We will arrange this as soon as possible, or we will assist you to put in a more formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

If you believe that our records of your information are inaccurate or out of date, you can ask us to amend our records.

If you have a complaint about privacy

Please contact us if you have a complaint about how we have handled your personal information. We aim to resolve complaints quickly and fairly.

Complaints are handled by the Complaints and Statutory Compliance team at Victoria Legal Aid. If we can’t resolve a complaint directly with you, we will refer you to the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection or the Health Services Commissioner.

Find out how to make a complaint.

Contact us

All requests, complaints and queries can be directed to:

Complaints and Statutory Compliance
Phone: (03) 9269 3789
Email: privacy@vla.vic.gov.au 
Address: GPO Box 4380, MELBOURNE VIC 3001.