Health information is regarded as one of the most sensitive types of personal information. For this reason, the Privacy Act 1988 provides extra protections around its handling. For example, a counselling organisation generally needs a client’s consent before they can collect their health information. The Privacy Act regulates how these organisations collect and handle personal information, including health information. It also includes provisions that generally allow a person to access information held about them. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) also regulates the handling of health information held in an individual’s eHealth record.
The Privacy Act 1988
The Privacy Act 1988 is an Australian law which regulates the handling of personal information about individuals. This includes the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information in this case information obtained, used, stored by ...view middle of the document...
The Privacy Act also;
• Permits the handling of health information for health and medical research purposes in certain circumstances, where researchers are unable to seek individuals' consent
• Allows organisations to have and to enforce their own privacy codes. It also permits small business operators, who would otherwise not be subject to the National Privacy Principles, to opt-in to being covered by the Privacy Act. More information on codes and opting-in is available on the privacy registers page
• Has two sets of privacy regulations which generally relate to:
o The application of the National Privacy Principles to specific entities
o The authorised disclosure of personal information during emergencies.
The Privacy Amendment
The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection Act 2012 was introduced to Parliament on 23 May 2013 and was passed with amendments on 29 November 2012. The Privacy Amendment strengthen privacy protection were passed by Parliament.
The Privacy Amendment Act is a part of the privacy law reform process that began in 2006. The Privacy Amendment Act introduces many significant changes to the Privacy Act. While these changes will not commence until 12 March 2014, Australian Government agencies* and businesses should start preparing now.
Enhanced powers for the Australian Information Commissioner
The Australian Information Commissioner will also have enhanced powers, which will generally be exercised by the Privacy Commissioner, including the ability to:
• Accept enforceable undertakings
• Seek civil penalties in the case of serious or repeated breaches of privacy (clients can seek justice when a counsellor breaches privacy laws & regulations)
• Conduct assessments of privacy performance for counsellors.
The enhanced powers help strengthen privacy of the client, providing a safe supportive environment for clients who feel as if their information will be distributed to other third party people. With the new enhanced powers of the AIC the clients can complain and deal with the issue of privacy and confidentiality breaches more efficiently and faster.