What this policy determines
This policy clarifies how we handle information about you in the course of conducting the Scheme’s functions. It also sets out the way the Scheme protects information including any personal information, sensitive information, or personal health information about you which is collected or held by us.
Who we are and what we do
The Scheme provides independent oversight of services for people in government institutions and community facilities who are dependent on service providers. The objective of the Scheme is to identify and address systemic service issues in the diverse environments of Corrections, Mental Health, Disability, Children and Young People and Homelessness.
Official Visitors visit entitled people at visitable places and report to Operational Ministers and other public authorities. Official Visitors also fulfil a more direct and informal function within their respective jurisdictions by resolving grievances and lesser issues with service providers or institutional authorities.
The following directions apply to the handling of all stored personal information that has been received for the purposes of the Scheme. These directions apply to Official Visitors, the Official Visitors Board, the Scheme’s Executive Officer and any contractors and service providers undertaking work on our behalf.
Collecting and receiving information about you
When Official Visitors become involved, personal and sensitive information may be collected about the entitled person, the place they are residing, carers, family, and friends. We respect the privacy and confidentiality of that information. Official Visitors collect this information to have a better understanding of a person's circumstances in order to resolve grievances, understand their living conditions and systemic issues affecting them.
The Scheme only collects personal information about you in ways that are lawful, fair and directly related to the Scheme’s functions. This information can be collected through forms, face-to-face-meetings, emails, fax messages and telephone calls. The information may come from you directly or from other people, organisations and government agencies, where your consent has been given, or when we exercise legislative powers. It may also come from publicly available sources, including social media, news articles etc.
When we collect information from you, we will notify you about who we are, why we need to collect the information, how you may be affected if we cannot collect the information and to whom that information may be disclosed.
Without the information collected, Official Visitors may not be able to resolve your grievances or properly identify systemic issues faced by you or other people living under similar circumstances.
How we keep and protect information about you
The Information Privacy Act 2014 and the ACT Government Protective Security Policy Framework requires the Scheme to take all reasonable measures to ensure your personal information is safe and secure with us. This means that only certain people within the Scheme can have access to that information, and that it can only be passed onto other people or organisations in restricted circumstances.
Any personal information held by Official Visitors about you is stored electronically in a secure case management computer network or, for paper documents, in locked cabinet files. Access to that information is controlled on a need-to-know basis to provide maximum privacy protection.
Under the Territory Records Act 2002, the Scheme is required to keep government information, including your personal information for specified periods depending on the nature of the material. Where individual case management files are no longer active, there are secondary legislative provisions which determine the timing and subsequent destruction of that information.
Disclosure of your personal information to others
The Scheme will only disclose your personal information with others if you agree. This is usually limited information to establish contact or resolve issues with Directorates, service providers, operating entities and others.
Where a law requires or allows us to disclose your personal information without your consent, we can do so in exceptional circumstances. Examples of these exceptional circumstances include:
- where there is a threat to life, health or safety of a person;
- law enforcement to prevent or detect a crime;
- addressing misconduct or corruption involving our work;
- suspected child abuse or other reportable conduct; or
- complying with court or tribunal directions.
Access to information
You have the right to access government information, personal information or personal health information under ACT legislation.
If you are unhappy with how we have handled the privacy of your personal information, we ask that you make a complaint to us in writing (by letter or email). We can assist you to make your complaint with us. Our email and postal address for complaints is:
Post: Official Visitor Scheme – GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601
If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, you may ask for a further review by the Official Visitors Board or make a formal complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The OAIC contact details for complaints is:
Facsimile: (02) 9284 9666
Post: Complaints – GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001
Legislation and definitions
The legislative provisions governing the privacy of Scheme information are:
- Information Privacy Act 2014 (IP Act)
- Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997 (HR-PA Act)
- Freedom of Information Act 2016 (FOI Act)
- Public Sector Management Act 1994
- Territory Records Act 2002
- Official Visitor Act 2012
Key definitions used in this policy document are:
Personal information means information or an opinion about a person who is reasonably identifiable - whether that information or opinion is true or not and whether the information and opinion is recorded in a material form or not. Personal information does not include personal health information (IP Act).
Sensitive information means personal information about a person's race or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or associations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association or trade union, sexual orientation or practices, criminal record, genetic information, or biometric information or a biometric template that relates to the individual (IP Act).
Personal health information means information, whether or not recorded in a health record, relating to the health, illness or disability of a consumer or collected by a health service provider in relation to the health, illness or disability of a consumer (HR-PA Act).
Government information means information contained in a record held or accessible by an agency or Minister excluding - information relating to the Minster's personal or political activities or created or received by a Minister in their capacity as a member of the Legislative Assembly (FOI Act).
How to contact us
- Email us through our contact form
- Hotline: 1800 150 036
- Telephone: (02) 6207 0978
- Post: GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601
- National Relay Service
- TTY users' phone
- Speak and Listen users' phone
- Internet relay users connect to the NRS
- Translating and Interpreting Service
Apart from the local call cost, these are free.
If you visit this website and any online facilities managed by the Scheme to read or download information, the Scheme automatically records the following information in their log files -
- Your Internet Protocol (IP) address. The IP Address is a unique numerical identifier used by computers and other devices to identify and communicate with each other over a network. The Scheme uses the IP Address to direct requested web pages to you where this is required
- Top level domain name (eg: .com, .net, .gov, .au etc)
- The type of browser and operating system you use
- Date and time of your visit
- The previous site visited
- Which pages are accessed
- The time spent on individual pages and the site overall
- Which files were downloaded
- What keywords you used to search the site.
This information may be used to improve this website and any Scheme managed online facilities and to help the Scheme to understand how people are using them. The log files do not collect or store personally identifiable information.
'Cookies' are small pieces of information that are stored by the browser on your computer's hard drive. The data collected about your use of this website and any Scheme managed online facilities is transmitted to and stored on servers. The service uses this data for the purpose of compiling usage reports for the Scheme and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage.
The reports provided by the service to the Scheme contain only aggregate non-personal data about your use of this website and any Scheme managed online facilities. These reports may contain data relating to pages viewed, files downloaded or the completion of online forms or subscriptions. The Scheme uses the data collected by the service to improve this website and any Scheme managed online facilities and to help the Scheme understand how people are using them.
The service may transfer this data to third parties where required to do so by law, or where third parties process this data on behalf of the service.
Personal information is defined as information about an individual whose identity is apparent or reasonably identifiable.
No personal information is collected automatically through this website. All personal information collected and/or stored must be voluntarily provided by you.
The Scheme will only collect personal information about you when you voluntarily participate in an activity that asks for information, such as:
- Sending an enquiry or feedback
- Participating in a survey
- Opting in to communication or subscription services.
The Scheme will collect personal information (e.g. postal address and telephone numbers) where you choose to provide this information.
If you choose not to provide personal information when completing one or more of these activities, you may not be able to complete that activity. If you choose not to participate in these activities, your choice will in no way affect your ability to browse this website and any Scheme managed online facilities.
Use of your personal information
Personal information you provide when sending an enquiry or feedback, participating in surveys, or opting in to communication or subscription services is strictly used only for the purpose it was collected and where extra information is required in order to provide the service you have requested.
The Scheme may use your contact details to respond appropriately, for example to address issues you identify, or to seek action from another government agency or other organisation.
Survey information is used only for the purpose designated.
The Scheme will not share information about you with other government agencies or other organisations without your permission unless:
- it is necessary to provide you with a service that you have requested;
- it is required or authorised by law; and
- where permitted general situations exist, such as to lessen or prevent a threat to life, health or safety; to assist with the location of a missing person; or to investigate suspected unlawful activity or serious misconduct relating to our functions.
Storage and security of your personal information
Security measures including, but not limited to, authentication, monitoring, auditing and encryption have been integrated into the design, implementation, contractual arrangements and day-to-day practices of the entire Scheme operating environment as part of its continuing commitment to risk management.
These security measures ensure the privacy of information while it is being transmitted across the Internet and protect your information against loss, misuse and alteration.
Access to personal information
You can review any personal information collected about you at any time by making a formal request in writing to the Scheme.
If you believe that your personal information is being used for a purpose other than what was intended when submitted, you may contact the Scheme. In all cases, the Scheme will take reasonable steps to verify your identity prior to granting access to and/or discussing your personal information.
Privacy obligations applying to the Scheme
With respect to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, the Scheme is bound by the (ACT) Information Privacy Act 2014.
The Scheme ensures that appropriate standards are used when service provision is outsourced to the private sector.
Neither the Scheme nor any agency, officer or employee warrants the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products or services linked from this system and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information.
Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. It is your responsibility to verify all information provided by this website and any Scheme managed online facilities and/or websites linked to or from them. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.
How to contact us
If you have any comment in relation to any aspect of the collection, use, security of or access to your personal information please contact the Scheme.
If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction you may wish to contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.