This procedure relates to privacy and information exchange with other professionals, agencies and services.

 

When to use this procedure

When working with young people and their families who are involved with other professionals and/or services.

 

What else you need to know

 

Practice context and legislation

  • Young people have a right to expect that their privacy is respected and access to personal information not misused.
  • Relevant, adequate, up-to-date and accurate information is necessary to conduct meaningful assessments and to work effectively with young people.
  • This often requires exchanging information with other professionals or services involved with the young person and their family.
  • Nearly all information collected routinely by youth justice is sensitive personal or health information. Most young people prefer to keep their involvement with the youth justice service private and confidential.
  • The Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Health Records Act 2001 govern the management and exchange of personal and health-related information in Victoria.
  • In situations where there is uncertainty regarding the management or disclosure of information, seek the advice of the team leader and/or the team manager. Further advice can be obtained from divisional privacy contact officers or Legal Services Branch.
  • Where information is exchanged in accordance with the requirements of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Health Records Act 2001, care must be taken that the manner in which the information is communicated protects the privacy of the young person.
 

Roles and key tasks

Case manager

  • Inform the team leader and/or team manager of the circumstances of the information exchange.

Team leader/ unit manager

  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice service.
  • Provide case consultation and direction regarding information exchange.

Assistant Director/ Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Provide case consultation regarding information exchange and privacy restrictions.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide case consultation regarding information exchance and privacy restrictions for young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours. This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual Family Support and the Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor.
 

The procedure in detail

Client Relationship Information Service (CRIS)

CRIS technology allows for certain information to be shared, not only within the youth justice service but across departmental programs.

Young people on dual orders

To ensure information exchange about young people on dual orders:

  • child protection must inform youth justice if a young person is involved with the child protection service
  • youth justice must find out whether a young person involved with the youth justice service is also involved with child protection (or has a history of child protection involvement).

Refer to 'Young people on dual orders – child protection' for more information.

Collection of information

Only collect the health and personal information necessary to perform a function or activity, and with signed consent from the young person.

For example, to conduct client assessment, prepare reports or make referrals to community-based services, only collect information required for that purpose.

Signed consent

Ask the young person to sign a release of information form to allow you to contact professionals, community-based agencies and services involved with them and/or their family.

Inform the young person that any information they give can be filed in CRIS and used in reports prepared for court.

Use and disclosure of information with consent of the young person

Personal information can be used and disclosed if the young person has consented to that use or disclosure.

When considering whether or not to disclose information consider the following factors:

  • the sensitivity of the information
  • the young person’s best interests
  • whether the information contains personal information about a person other than the young person
  • potential risk to the young person or others.

If uncertain, consult with the team leader or team manager.

Use and disclosure of information without consent of the young person

Information can be used or disclosed for the primary purpose for which it was collected, or for a directly related secondary purpose the young person would reasonably expect.

Release or disclosure of the young person’s information can also occur without consent where there is a purpose to lessen or prevent:

  • a serious or imminent threat to an individual's life, health, safety or welfare
  • a serious threat to public health, public safety or public welfare.

In addition, release or disclosure of the young person’s information can also occur where the use or disclosure of information is part of an investigation of unlawful activity.

Refer to procedure for 'Release of information to police‘ for more information.

If information is disclosed without the young person’s consent, consider whether it is in the young person’s best interest to be informed of the disclosure.

Quality of information

Take reasonable steps to ensure that health or personal information held is accurate, complete, up-to-date and relevant to the functions performed.

Sensitive information

Privacy legislation restricts collection of sensitive personal information that relates to an individual's racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, membership of groups or criminal records.

Sensitive information may be collected with the young person’s consent for the following reasons:

  • it is required by law
  • it is necessary to prevent or lesson a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of any individual
  • it is required for government-funded welfare or educational services.

You must take reasonable steps to protect a young person’s health and personal information from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or unauthorised disclosure.

To ensure information relating to a young person (hardcopy or electronic) is kept secure:

  • store hardcopy files in secure filing cabinets when not in use
  • do not leave information relating to young people on desktops, whiteboards, fax or photocopy machines
  • secure computer access to electronic information relating to young people when not in use
  • when taken out of the office, place information relating to young people in a briefcase, satchel or other suitable container
  • do not discuss information relating to young people in public or where it can be overheard by unauthorised persons
  • destroy or de-identify obsolete copies of information relating to young people
  • ensure compliance with departmental and local practice guidelines relating to the use of portable storage devices. Portable storage devices that contain information relating to young people must be password protected and stored in a secure place.

Information holders

The following information holders are professionals and people in charge of agencies and services who may have contact with the young person or their family in the course of their work:

  • police
  • government department employees
  • school teachers and principals
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • health services
  • mental health services
  • drug or alcohol treatment services
  • sexual assault support services.

Gathering or sharing information

When contacting a person to gather or disclose information, explain:

  • the purpose of the contact
  • how the youth justice service is authorised to share information related to the case
  • how the information they provide may be used, for example, for the purposes of inclusion in a court report.

Release of youth justice documents

If a young person has provided consent for the release of documents to professionals or people in charge of community-based agencies and services, the documents can be provided without breaching privacy legislation.

If the documents contain the personal information of people other than the young person, seek consent of the people named, or provide a summary that omits identifying details.

The decision to release the full document or a summary report is made on a case-by-case basis, and at the discretion of the team leader / team manager

Integrity of information

When documents, reports or information taken from documents are forwarded to other professionals, the integrity of the information must be maintained.

This means ensuring that the following details are clear:

  • the date and purpose for which the information was prepared
  • sources of information
  • author details
  • whether any information is restricted.

Secure information transfer

When providing written information to other people about a young person, for instance where making a referral, take the following measures to ensure confidentiality:

  • Deliver reports and referral forms directly to the intended recipient.
  • Only use registered mail where material has to be posted.
  • It is preferable to scan and email referral forms where possible.
  • Ensure that emails are transmitted with the subject marked as ‘Confidential’.
  • Before faxing material, ensure that a fax number is correct.
  • Always use a fax cover sheet marked 'Confidential'.
  • Ensure that the recipient is available to receive the fax and ask them to confirm receipt by phone.

Managing privacy complaints

Refer to the 'Guidelines for managing privacy incidents' for more information.

 

Additional information