Private Lives: A Guide To Privacy Law In Victoria
Monday, 17th March 2003 at 12:03 pm
The ‘privacy statement’ at the foot of bills and forms and statements and donor mail outs is now common practice. But what do the privacy laws mean for the average person? Who has to comply with the laws?
A new publication has the answers, and tips on what people can do if they believe their privacy has been breached.
Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls launched Private Lives: Your Guide to Privacy Law in Victoria on March 5th, 2003.
The 48-page plain language booklet is published by the Victoria Law Foundation in conjunction with Privacy Victoria and the Office of the Health Services Commissioner.
Private Lives covers the rules for collecting, using and disclosing personal information, how to access personal and health information, correcting errors, complaints processes and where to go for help with a privacy problem.
The publication 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.
For this reason, the publication gives emphasis to those aspects of the privacy laws that are likely to be of most interest to the general public such as finding out what personal information may be collected lawfully by organisations; how this information is protected from misuse and improper disclosure; and what redress you may have if your privacy is breached.
Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director Kathy Laster says the knowledge revolution means that far more people can have ready access to
information about us and our lives. Inevitably, intrusions upon our privacy and the risks of this kind of information being misused have also increased.
Laster says that understanding the legal protections now available should help to allay some community concerns. The Victoria Law Foundation is pleased to be involved in a publication for the community which clearly explains the law about what information may be collected, by whom and for what purpose.
Private Lives also helps the community understand where to direct complaints about inappropriate use of personal information and how such problems can be resolved.
Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson says the basis of any relationship between a health service provider and a consumer should be trust. Openness and honesty enhances trust whereas secrecy undermines it. The
Health Records Act gives Victorian consumers the right to see health information about them. It also ensures that health information is kept in accordance with privacy principles.
Victorian Privacy Commissioner Paul Chadwick says privacy is instinctive. But law requires precision and reasoning.
Chadwick says the booklet brings instinct and reason together in a practical way. Everyone is in the process of adapting to these reforms and this booklet will help.
50,000 copies of the booklet are being distributed throughout Victoria and an online version can be found at www.victorialaw.org.au .