Privacy Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have to seek informed client consent to collect, use, disclose and store client information

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is subject to Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles and is thus legally required to comply with privacy legislation. This will ensure the protection and proper treatment of all our clients’ personal and sensitive information.

Do we have to seek consent from all our clients or only new clients visited by the Conference after 1st July 2015?

You must seek consent from all the clients you assist from 1st July 2015 onwards. The new consent form will cover the Society for use of clients’ information internally and disclosure of their information to relevant third parties.

Do we have to seek consent every time we assist a client?

No. Consent is required only once unless there are exceptional circumstances that require consent to be sought again. For example, if you wish to share the client’s story for research or other purposes.

What is the process of seeking consent from the client?

1. Briefly explain to the client how their information is protected by the Society.

Refer to the Understanding Privacy factsheet which is at the back of the Generic Client Consent Form.  Clients can be given a copy of the Privacy brochure if requested but please do not provide the clients with the Understanding Privacy factsheet.

2. Seek explicit consent from the client.

For example, ask the client  “Do you give consent for the Society to record, use, disclose and store your personal and, where appropriate, sensitive information for the purpose of providing you with assistance?”

3. If the client consents, they must sign the Generic Client Consent Form. If the client is unwilling to sign the form but provides you with verbal consent, there are instructions at the bottom of the form which explain what you should do.

4. If the client would like to nominate an advocate, there is provision to do so on the form.

Advocates who are already authorised to act on behalf of the client may sign the form provided they produce evidence that they are already the client’s nominated advocate. In such cases it is necessary to sight the relevant documentation and record that the evidence was provided.  

The advocate should be asked to provide a copy of the documentation as soon as practicable for Society records. This documentation and the consent form will be stored in the client file on GKO. The Privacy Information discussed field will then be ticked and the Date when privacy information was discussed recorded.

What if a client is unable to provide written consent? Is verbal consent sufficient?

If for whatever reason a client and/or advocate is unable or unwilling to sign the consent form but provides verbal consent, the date and a note that verbal consent was given must be recorded in the client file.

How do we seek consent from a client who does not speak English?

The Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) can be contacted for assistance in seeking consent from the client. Details of the relevant TIS code can be obtained from the Regional Office.

What if a client does not consent to providing us with their information?

Information that we collect from the client is important for us to assess their needs so that we can provide them with effective support. If a client does not consent to providing us with their information, the assistance we are able to provide will be limited/less effective. For instance you may:

1.        Provide a food parcel with the expectation that the client will not be provided further support unless information is provided to fully assess their needs;

2. Provide details of another service that may be able to help the client. In this case you will not be making a referral to another service but simply providing information about other relevant services to the client.

Do we need to seek consent from the clients phoning the Regional Office for assistance?

Yes.  In this case:

1. The person taking the call should seek verbal consent from the client and record in the case notes in GKO whether verbal consent was obtained.

2.        A note should be recorded on the Request for Assistance that members visiting the client must still seek written consent when they visit the client as outlined in the process for seeking client consent section above.

If I have any queries or wish to seek clarification regarding Privacy, who can I contact?

Please contact Society’s Privacy Officer by email privacy@vinnies.org.au or phone (02) 9568 0262.