Regional Alliance West Inc is committed to protecting and upholding the right to privacy of clients, staff, volunteers, Management Committee members and representatives of agencies we deal with. In particular Regional Alliance West Inc is committed to protecting and upholding the rights of our clients to privacy in the way we collect, store and use information about them, their needs and the services we provide to them.
Regional Alliance West Inc requires staff, volunteers and Management Committee members to be consistent and careful in the way they manage what is written and said about individuals and how they decide who can see or hear this information.
The organisation will follow the guidelines of the Australian Privacy Principles in its information management practices.
Regional Alliance West Inc will ensure that:
This policy conforms to the Federal Privacy Act (1988) and the Australian Privacy Principles which govern the collection, use and storage of personal information.
(Note: The Federal Privacy Act applies to organisations with an annual turnover over $3m or organisations that are health service providers, operators of a residential tenancy database, a contractor that provides services under a Commonwealth contract, an organisation that is related to a larger organisation or one which trades in personal information.
Many funding contracts may require that funded organisations comply with the Australian Privacy Principles).
This policy will apply to all records, whether hard copy or electronic, containing personal information about individuals, and to interviews or discussions of a sensitive personal nature.
Dealing with personal information
In dealing with personal information, Regional Alliance West Inc staff will:
- ensure privacy for clients, staff, volunteers or Management Committee members when they are being interviewed or discussing matters of a personal or sensitive nature
- only collect and store personal information that is necessary for the functioning of the organisation and its activities
- use fair and lawful ways to collect personal information
- collect personal information only by consent from an individual
- ensure that people know what sort of personal information is held, what purposes it is held it for and how it is collected, used, disclosed and who will have access to it
- ensure that personal information collected or disclosed is accurate, complete and up-to-date, and provide access to any individual to review information or correct wrong information about themselves
- take reasonable steps to protect all personal information from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure
- destroy or permanently de-identify personal information no longer needed and/or after legal requirements for retaining documents have expired
Responsibilities for managing privacy
- All staff are responsible for the management of personal information to which they have access, and in the conduct of research, consultation or advocacy work.
- Corporate Manager, Operations Manager and/or Principal Solicitor is responsible for content in Regional Alliance West Inc publications, communications and web site and must ensure the following:
- appropriate consent is obtained for the inclusion of any personal information about any individual including Regional Alliance West Inc personnel
- information being provided by other agencies or external individuals conforms to privacy principles
- that the website contains a Privacy statement that makes clear the conditions of any collection of personal information from the public through their visit to the website
- Corporate Manager is responsible for safeguarding personal information relating to Regional Alliance West Inc staff, Board members, volunteers, contractors and members.
Privacy information for clients
At the initial assessment clients will be told what information is being collected, how their privacy will be protected and their rights in relation to this information.
Privacy for interviews and personal discussions
To ensure privacy for clients or staff when discussing sensitive or personal matters, the organisation will:
Take clients into an interview room, which has window coverings, to ensure other clients going into other rooms can not see in. Clients are discouraged from talking about the issues loudly in reception and will be taken into another room if they do so. Clients are taken into the board room, if they are required to make a phone call outside of their appointment times.
If staff complete home visits, they inform the client they are visiting they should not have anyone else at the house at the same time, as it could provide them with information they may not what them to have knowledge of.
Staff are not permitted to discuss client information unless they have been given written approval from the client and these discussions are only to be in the Service provider area or interview room, not on a phone in reception or reception at all.
Participants in research projects
People being invited to participate in a research project must be:
- given a choice about participating or not
- given the right to withdraw at any time
- informed about the purpose of the research project, the information to be collected, and how information they provide will be used
- given copies of any subsequent publications
The collection of personal information will be limited to that which is required for the conduct of the project. Individual participants will not be identified.
Organisational participants in research projects will generally be identified in Regional Alliance West Inc research, unless the nature of a particular project requires anonymity or an organisation specifically requests it.
Client Feedback / Complaint Policy
All clients have the right to complain about the services they receive through Regional Alliance West without fear of retribution. It is the responsibility of all staff members to inform clients of their right to provide feedback of any nature at any time in a private and appropriate manner. The centre’s philosophy on this matter is that “Feedback is an opportunity to improve services to the client group”, and this intent should be reinforced by management with all staff on an ongoing basis in order to develop client focused organisational culture.
Strategies to assist clients with varying needs in providing feedback should be implemented. All complaints will be dealt with fairly and in a timely manner.
The Managers should take steps to ensure that the client has no reservations in regard to accessing the services after a complaint has been lodged.
The client may use an advocate at any stage of the complaint process. The advocate can negotiate on behalf of the client or act in a supporting role. A family member, friend, community agency or a specialist advocacy service may be used in this role (client advocates policy for more info).
All complaints are to be recorded in the Complaints Register. This is located in the Corporate Managers office.
Any person affected by a complaint should be fully informed of all the details regarding its nature. They should be given the opportunity to put their case.
Particular note should be made of the client confidentiality policy during this process. Only those directly concerned with the resolution of the complaint should be privy to the information regarding its nature.
The client’s permission should be obtained prior to sharing information with other parties in order to satisfactorily resolve the complaint.
Clients are encouraged to raise their complaint with the staff member or volunteer concerned in the first instance.
If a complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily, or the client is not confident to discuss the issue with the staff member or volunteer concerned, or the complaint is of a more significant nature, it may be presented to a Manager.
If the issue is still not resolved satisfactorily, the client may raise the matter with the other Manager.
If the compliant is still not resolved the client can ask for a Board member to contact them or their complaint be taken to the Board meeting.
If the complaint is still not resolved the client may lodge a complaint with the funding body concerned or alternatively seek advice from another complaint handling source regarding it.
Recommendations identified within the complaint or feedback process that will lead to tangible improvements in service delivery should be implemented, and the client/ clients notified of this action. Implementation can occur in case meetings or any other forum where discussion of service is included.
The managers are responsible for ensuring the service is continually improved for the benefit of the target group.