CLIENT INFORMATION: Client records are stored in a secure cloud-based practice management system (electronic files), which are accessible only to authorised employees. The type of information we may hold on your file includes information and documentation which could, or does, identify you. We do not collect or retain credit card details. Reception staff have access to your client record and paper files, but not to your psychologist’s electronic session notes. Your psychologist, counsellor or mental health professional is responsible for maintaining the privacy of their session notes.
HOW PERSONAL INFORMATION IS COLLECTED: Your personal information is collected in a number of ways before, during and after consultations. This information includes;
- Booking information
- Notes from discussions and/or sessions
- Emails, letters and other correspondence
PURPOSE OF COLLECTING AND HOLDING PERSONAL INFORMATION: Your personal information is gathered and used for the purpose of providing and documenting the counselling, psychology and other services you have been referred for. Your counsellor, psychologist or mental health professional will only record personal information that they deem necessary or relevant to provide you the appropriate mental health services. You may change your contact details and unsubscribe or opt-out of any service at any time by contacting us
DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION: Your personal information will not be disclosed except when:
- It is subpoenaed by a court; or
- Failure to disclose the information would, in the reasonable belief of your counsellor or psychologist or a SVP Director, place you or another person at serious risk to life, health or safety; or
- Your prior approval has been obtained to: (1) provide a letter or report to another professional or agency (e.g. GP or lawyer); or (2) discuss or share the information with another person (e.g. parent, carer or employer); or (3) disclose the information in another way (e.g. via email); or
- You would reasonably expect your personal information to be disclosed to another health practitioner or professional, and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected (i.e. your psychology service); or
- Disclosure is otherwise required by law.
Your personal information will not be used, sold, rented or disclosed for any other purpose.
PROFESSIONAL SUPERVISION: From time to time, your counsellor or psychologist may consult with their professional supervisor or another registered health practitioner about your case for the purpose of supervision and guidance to enhance their service to you. In such instances, your information will be de-identified (i.e. using a pseudonym), unless consulting with a SVT Director (Principal Counsellor or Psychologist), whom is likely to know your identity and is also bound by the Privacy Act and this policy.
REQUESTS FOR CORRECTION OR ACCESS TO CLIENT RECORDS: You may request to see the personal information in your client record by writing directly to SVT, attention ‘Privacy Officer’. Your mental health specialist will respond to your request in writing in 28 days and may or may not provide you access to this information, subject to the exceptions in the Privacy Act. Where access is granted, your mental health specialist may require you to attend an appointment to view your personal information. Standard service fees apply to these appointments. You may also request to correct personal information on your client record that is agreed to be inaccurate, out-of-date or incomplete. Requests to correct information should be made to your mental health specialist or, where appropriate, to reception staff (e.g. updating address details). Reasonable steps will be taken to correct your information as soon as practicable or your psychologist will at least respond to your request in writing within 28 days. In some instances, you may be required to attend an appointment for clarification purposes. Standard service rates may apply to these appointments depending on the nature of the requested corrections.
REQUESTS TO RELEASE CLIENT RECORDS: This section describes our policy on responding to requests from clients, guardians, legal representatives or other relevant authorities, to release all or part of a client’s record. This policy does not pertain to subpoenas. Requests to release your information must be received in writing at least 28 days prior to the information being needed. Your mental health specialist must have regard for legal and ethical exceptions in considering the request and will respond to the requesting party within 14 days. If there is no objection to the request, the requesting party will be invoiced for the anticipated cost of properly preparing and releasing your personal information. This process will be completed within 14 days of receiving full payment. In most instances, your mental health specialist will require you to attend an appointment to review the information due to be released and to obtain your fully informed written consent to the release (signing a generic consent form is generally insufficient). Standard service fees apply to these appointments. Alternatively, you may make a written request to your mental health specialist to provide a summary of your personal information, or a letter or report addressing the purpose that the personal information is being sought for, in accordance with our policy on the disclosure of client information. Costs and timeframes for these requests are at the discretion of your mental health specialist. Please note that we cannot be responsible for preserving the confidentiality of information that has left SVT’s control, e.g. where you have asked us to provide information to another party.
DISPOSAL OF CLIENT RECORDS: SVT is required to hold adult clients’ files for 7 years and to hold child clients’ files until the child has turned 25 years old. Unless impracticable, we store client records in our secure electronic practice management system and shred duplicate paper information onsite six months after a client’s last appointment. Any information unable to be stored electronically is archived in a secure filing cabinet. Once your record is due to be disposed of, your electronic file will be permanently deleted, and any archived paper file will be shred onsite.
CONCERNS: We will notify you immediately on becoming aware of any breach to this policy or the security of your personal information. If you have a concern about the management of your personal information, you may inform your psychologist either verbally or in writing. You can access the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe your rights and how your personal information should be handled, via www.privacy.gov.au. If you ultimately wish to lodge a formal complaint about the use of, disclosure of, or access to, your personal information, you may do so with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) by phone (1300 363 992), by post (GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001) or online at http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/making-a-privacy-complaint.
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