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Client Confidentiality

Privacy

The "Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000" which amends the "Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988", sets out your rights and the Gender Centre's responsibility relating to any personal information held about you as an individual who uses the Gender Centre's services.
 
This policy does not apply to information held by the Gender Centre about staff or volunteers. Different legislation applies to staff and volunteer records.
 
The "Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000" (hereafter referred to as the Act) which includes the National Privacy Principles sets out how private sector organisations such as the Gender Centre Inc. should collect, keep, use and disclose personal information. The Gender Centre Inc. complies with and wherever possible strives to exceed the requirements of the Act. The Gender Centre Inc. complies with all of the national privacy principles.
 
The Act provides you as an individual with the right to know why the Gender Centre Inc. holds your personal information, what information is held about you, how the Gender Centre Inc. will use that information and under what circumstances your personal information may be divulged to others. You have the right to ask to see your personal information and for it to be changed or altered if incorrect or out of date. Under special circumstances the Gender Centre Inc. may refuse to allow you to see information held about you, in doing so, the Gender Centre Inc. in accordance with the Act is required to explain why. The Act stipulates that you may make a complaint if you think your information is not used or held appropriately and in accordance with the Act.

Personal Information

Personal information includes such things as your full name, date of birth, gender and address and other contact details. The Act recognises that information of a more sensitive nature may be collected by organisations such as the Gender Centre Inc. in order to provide you with, or refer you to particular services. Sensitive information is a subset of personal information. It means information or opinion about an individual's racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record or health information about an individual

Collection

The Gender Centre Inc. will collect only the information, which is necessary to provide you with the highest standard of service.
 
We will only collect information about you with your consent and by lawful means.
When we collect your information you will be told what we will do with it and to whom it may be disclosed.
Information about you will not be used in any way without your consent or other than for the reasons for which it was collected.
Where we have obtained information about you from someone other than yourself, we will take all reasonable steps to inform you about who we are, what we intend to do with your information, how you may access it and to whom it may be disclosed. In other words where possible we will inform you of what will happen to your information as if we had collected it from you ourselves.

Data Security

The Gender Centre Inc. undertakes to ensure that all personal information is kept in a secure place or manner. We will take all reasonable steps to protect your information from misuse, loss, unauthorised or unnecessary access, alteration or disclosure. The Gender Centre Inc. undertakes to destroy or de-identify your personal information when it is no longer required for any purpose by you or by law.

Access and Correction

Only staff may access your information and only in the performance of their duties in the provision of a service to you or specifically at your request. Staff may not divulge any identifying information about you to each other except that, which is necessary for them to do so in the performance of their duties.
 
The Gender Centre Inc. will provide you with access to personal information it holds about you upon your request. In some circumstances it may be inappropriate for the Gender Centre Inc. to comply with your request, such as where someone else's privacy may be seriously breached, or where the request poses a threat to an individual's health or safety. In such case, if we withhold access we will provide you with the reason for doing so.
 
At your request we will correct any out-of-date or inaccurate information. We will do this either over the phone or face-to-face. You may arrange an appointment to view your personal information. To obtain access to, or copies of, or to correct or up-date your personal, sensitive information you will need to submit a request to the General Manager of the service either by telephoning or writing to us.

Anonymity

Wherever practicable and lawful, and if you want to, we will provide you the option of interacting with the Gender Centre Inc. anonymously.

Sensitive Information

The Gender Centre Inc. will not collect sensitive information about you without your consent unless, the collection is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to health or life, or the collection is required by law. The Gender Centre Inc. in some instances may collect information without an individual's consent if the person concerned is physically or legally incapable of giving consent. The Gender Centre Inc. may also collect sensitive information without consent in accordance with rules established by competent health or medical bodies that deal with the obligations of professional confidentiality, for example, client case notes kept about counselling sessions with professionally recognised psychotherapists or session case notes kept by enhanced care project staff.

Staff Confidentiality

A strict code of confidentiality also applies to staff of the Gender Centre.
 
The Gender Centre maintains a record of each resident, community client and others accessing the Gender Centre either in person, by telephone or email. These records exist in the form of files, files for those who have accessed the Gender centre in the last three years are stored in locked filing cabinets at our Petersham office. Files for clients who have not accessed our service for three years are archived in a secure location and are shredded after seven years.
 
Community client and resident files are opened and maintained so that:
 
  • A clear record of the client's needs is maintained over time;
  • Staff can continue to work effectively with clients who present for counselling on a number of occasions with a number of different workers;
  • The Gender Centre can maintain knowledge of the range of issues affecting clients of our service. This data is essential in terms of client advocacy and submissions for funding;
  • Staff can gain a view of the overall progress of the client or resident through the counselling or case management process; and
  • Accountability and consistency is maintained.
Clients are informed that a file will be maintained documenting each significant contact that they have with The Gender Centre. The client/s must give permission for a file to be opened. Clients should be aware that the files are for our own records and to maintain our accountability and funding. Clients who are reluctant to provide their real name may use an alias and files may be kept for "Jane" or "John Doe" for clients who refuse to provide any name or alias at all.
 
Files are maintained in our computer database, and the information contained in these files is transparent and complete. Information is dated or date stamped and is accurate and definite. Files may contain information pertaining to:
  • needs, priorities;
  • preferences and decisions;
  • action plans, person responsible, time lines;
  • review;
  • exit plans;
  • referral/s to other agencies/services;
  • coordination with other agencies; and
  • copies of client's personal documents, where appropriate (medical, legal, etc).
  • In addition to regular community client files, those maintained for residential clients record all applications for entry to the residential program, regardless of whether the client is admitted. The Gender Centre regularly monitors the reason/s for refusing access to potential clients in order to review the overall fairness of decisions.
Staff are permitted to discuss matters pertaining to community clients and residents with other staff members involved with case management. For this reason, all appropriate staff should remain informed of community client and resident issues, concerns and levels of progress.
 
Staff are not permitted to discuss issues relating to clients, residents or confidential Gender Centre matters or processes with any members of the Management Committee, general members of the Gender Centre, or members of the public.
 
Any divulgence of illegal or criminal activity is not covered by this code of confidentiality. Staff members are legally required to report illegal or criminal activities should they be asked to do so by the relevant authorities.
 
In cases where staff may need to pass on community client or resident information to other service providers, the client or resident will be asked to sign a "Release of Information" form that allows the staff member to pass on particular information. This information cannot be passed on without the informed consent of the client or resident.
 
If you do not wish a particular matter to be discussed with other staff members, you may inform the staff member that you wish the matter to remain confidential to you and that staff member only. If you reveal your H.I.V. status to a staff member, they are legally prohibited from discussing this with anyone else without your informed consent.

Client Confidentiality

All residents must sign a confidentiality declaration upon admission to the Gender Centre's residential program.
 
This declaration prohibits the resident from any discussion regarding other clients or residents, staff members, general members, members of the management committee, or other confidential matters or processes.
 
It includes any discussion of the H.I.V. status of any person. It is illegal to inform another person about the H.I.V. status of another person without their informed consent.

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The Gender Centre Inc. is funded by Sydney Local Area Health District through the AIDS and Infectious Diseases Branch and the N.S.W. Government Department of Human Services, Community Services under the Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) program.

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