Personal information that I collect is managed in accordance with the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997 and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
Personal information means information or an opinion about an individual who is identified, or who can reasonably be identified, from the information, whether or not the information or opinion is true or recorded in a material form, and includes sensitive information.
Sensitive information means information or an opinion, that is also personal information, about a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, memberships of political, professional and trade associations and unions, religious and philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation or practices, criminal history, health information, and genetic and biometric information.
The kind of personal information that I collect and hold
- I collect a range of personal information in the course of providing psychological services to my clients. This personal information is managed in two types of files: the Client Information Record and Confidential Session Notes.
- Personal information collected and managed in your Client Information Record would include your name/pseudonym, date of birth, home address, phone number, email address, invoicing / service history, name and contact details of your next of kin, as well as the name of your referring doctor, date of referral, and other billing information required by third party payers such as file/approval/identification number.
- Personal information collected and managed in your Confidential Session Notes would include clinical/file notes (identified by your name and date of birth) documenting the psychological services that I provide and any sensitive information (including personal health information) collected during the provision of these services; copies of any service-related letters, reports, or claims forms; and any other service-related documents that we have agreed to store on your file.
How your personal information is collected
- Your personal information is collected both during and between consultations when we communicate with each other in person or by phone, letter, or email.
- Your personal information may also be collected during written and oral service-related communications that I have with your referring doctor, or other third parties such as your lawyer or insurer.
- Any other service-related documents that you or your insurer, lawyer, health professional, or other party provides to me may also become part of the personal information that I manage within your Client Information Record or Confidential Session Notes.
How your personal information is held
- Personal Information contained in your Client Information Record and Confidential Session Notes is held in encrypted electronic files stored on the local hard drive of my computer. The encrypted files are backed up on a secure network drive.
How long your personal information is held for
- I am required to hold your personal information until seven years after the day that a service was last provided. For clients who were under 18 years old when the information was collected, the day the client turns 25 years old.
- Personal information that I am no longer required to hold is identified and destroyed at the end of each financial year.
Who else has access to your personal information?
- My accountant has access to your Client Information Record for accounting purposes but does not have access to your Confidential Session Notes.
- Your personal information is collected and used for the purposes of providing relevant and informed psychological services, including the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your presenting issues.
- Your personal information is also used to document the psychological services that I provide and to support my compliance with the various legal obligations that are required of me as a registered psychologist and sole trader.
Your personal information will remain confidential except when:
- it is subpoenaed by a court;
- failure to disclose the information would, in my reasonable belief, place you or another person at serious risk to life, health or safety;
- your approval has been obtained to:
- provide a written report to another professional or agency; or
- discuss the material with another person, e.g. a parent, employer or health provider; or
- disclose the information in another way;
- you would reasonably expect your personal information to be disclosed to another professional or agency and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose which is directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected; or
- disclosure is otherwise required or authorised by law.
- Your personal information will not be disclosed to overseas recipients, unless you provide consent for such disclosure, or disclosure is required by law.
- Your personal information will not be used, sold, rented or disclosed for any other purpose.
- Note that psychologists are listed as ‘mandated reporters’ under s 356 of the Children and Young People Act 2008. Under this legislation, a ‘mandated reporter’ must make a Child Concern Report if they believe on reasonable grounds, based on information obtain during the course of (or because of) their work, that a child or young person has experienced, or is experiencing sexual abuse, or non-accidental physical injury.
Anonymity and pseudonymity
- It is not practical to engage my services anonymously. You may, however, use a pseudonym and withhold all identifying information except for a contact phone number (which I need for logistical reasons).
- Note that you will be required to disclose your legal name if you wish to access my services through the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, or if your treatment is being funded through a third party.
Requests for access to and correction of your personal information
- You are welcome to lodge an oral or written request with me to view and/or obtain a copy of your Client Information Record or Confidential Session Notes. If necessary, we will make an appointment to review these records together, so that I can explain the contents and answer any questions you might have. Access will be given within 30 days of me receiving your request. A fee may be charged for this service.
- If you are satisfied that your personal information is inaccurate, out of date, or incomplete, reasonable steps will be taken in the circumstances to ensure that this information is corrected.
- There are some circumstances in which requests to access your personal information may be declined. These are outlined in the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997.
- If you have any concerns or complaints regarding the management of your personal information, let me know and I will attempt to address them as best I can.
- You may also lodge a formal complaint about the use of, disclosure of, or access to, your personal information, with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by phone (1300 363 992), by post (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001), or online at www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/making-a-privacy-complaint.