As a very brief guide, privacy matters in Victoria are protected by three separate Commissions:
- The Health Services Commission covers all health information matters and should be the first point of contact for health-related queries and complaints.
- The Victorian Privacy Commissioner covers all other personal information matters
- The Federal Privacy Commissioner covers both health and other personal information but mostly only in relation to Federal government agencies e.g. Veteran Affairs.
If you are not sure who you should contact first, start with the Health Services Commission.
Health Services Commission
Is a free and confidential service which offers the following services:
- Helps people make their concerns known to health service providers
- Protects your right of access to your health information
- Conciliates formally or informally, between consumers and providers of services.
- Assists in the resolution of complaints.
- Uses information obtained and lessons learned to recommend improvements to services.
Office of the Health Services Commissioner
30th Floor 570 Bourke Street
Complaints and Information
Telephone: (03) 8601 5200
Toll Free: 1800 136 066
Fax No: (03) 8601 5219
Victorian Privacy Commission
The Victorian Privacy Commissioner provides information to the general public about their rights under the Information Privacy Act [which covers all privacy information other than health information). The Commission responds to enquiries about privacy issues relating to Victorian Government agencies including local councils, and to privacy issues generally. It regulates the way government agencies and councils can collect and handle personal information.
Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner
Level 11, 10–16 Queen Street
Postal Address: GPO Box 5057 Melbourne, 3000
Tel: 1300 666 444 (toll free from anywhere in the state)
Fax: 1300 666 445
Federal Privacy Commissioner
- Has responsibility for ensuring the proper use of personal information in a range of matters – not just health –including credit records and criminal backgrounds.
- Specifically to health, the Commissioner provides protection for personal information handled by federal government agencies and all private sector health service providers.
- Will usually only act on complaints where there has been a breach of the Information Privacy Principles or the National Privacy Principles.
- Will give advice on the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
- Will investigate, conciliate, and if necessary, make a determination on any complaint received in regard to a breach of the Privacy Principles.
- You can check for yourself if the Commissioner is likely to investigate your complaint by using the on-line ‘ComplaintChecker’. www.privacy.gov.au/privacy_rights/ComplaintChecker/index.html
Privacy Information in Other Languages
The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner has information on privacy rights in 11 other languages: Arab, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Korean, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese. You can email the Office in one of these languages and arrange to speak by phone with a representative of the Commissioner and an interpreter to seek information or make a privacy complaint.
Click here to access the multilingual web page: http://www.privacy.gov.au/privacy_rights/languages/.
Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner
Level 8, 133 Castlereagh Street,
Sydney NSW 1042
Postal Address: GPO Box 5218
Telephone: 1300 363 992 (local call)
Fax: (02) 9284 9666
TTY 1800 620 241
Health Records Act 2001
To access the Health Records Act 2001 go to: http://www.dms.dpc.vic.gov.au/Domino/web_notes/LDMS/PublawToday.nsf
Click on Acts and letter H. Click on Health Records Act 2001. Click on either Acrobat or Word version.
Copies of the Act can be purchased from:
- Information Victoria, 356 Collins St, Melbourne 3000 (Tel: 1300 366 356)
- Mail order from Anstat Customer Services, PO Box 447, South Melbourne 3205 (Tel: 03 9278 1144)
‘Private Lives: Your guide to privacy law in Victoria.’
This guide was produced by the Victoria Law Foundation and is also available in hard copy. It is intended for general readers or consumers who want to know how privacy laws protect their privacy and how they can exercise their rights under these laws.
Health Privacy Principles: http://www.privacy.monash.edu.au/laws/hpps.html