West Heidelberg Community Legal Service (WHCLS) is a service offered by Banyule Community Health and we are committed to respecting and protecting your privacy in accordance with applicable Australian privacy laws.
WHCLS is required to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and depending on the circumstances, it is also required to comply with other applicable privacy laws such as the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic).
This policy explains how WHCLS deals with your personal information. This policy does not cover client confidentiality obligations which is outlined in the WHCLS Client Charter Brochure.
What personal information does WHCLS collect?
Personal information is any information (including images), whether true or not, that identifies or could identify you.
The kind of personal information we collect about you depends on our interaction with you. If you are:
• a client of WHCLS, the personal information we collect can include your name, address, contact details, gender, date of birth, financial circumstances, living arrangements, details of the legal problem, and sensitive information such as criminal history and disability;
• in a dispute with our client or involved in one of our matters, we will collect your name, contact details and information (personal or otherwise) about the dispute/matter.
Sensitive information is a subset of personal information and includes, information about a person’s racial/ethnic origin, criminal record, religious beliefs and health. We collect sensitive information if it is required for us to perform our functions or activities and:
• you have consented to such collection; or
• we are required or authorised by law to do so.
How does WHCLS collect personal information?
When we carry out our activities as a legal service, we collect personal information:
• from you (eg. in person, by telephone);
• through documents we receive (eg letters, court documents, emails);
• through your use of our website;
• from third parties (eg regulatory authorities/publicly available sources)
Why does WHCLS collect personal information?
We collect, hold and use your personal information to:
• assess whether a client is eligible for assistance;
• give our clients legal advice, assistance and services;
• send you information you have asked for;
• deal with any complaints or queries;
• monitor and assess WHCLS’ services including as part of a peer review of service;
We may also collect, hold and use personal information for other purposes:
• for which you have provided consent;
• required or authorised by law;
• explained at time of collection.
We also use personal information, after removing identifying details to:
• meet our reporting/funding obligations;
• apply for funding grants;
• perform research and statistical analysis;
• support our advocacy (make submissions on wider issues of law and law reform).
When WHCLS disclose personal information
We generally only disclose personal information, to other people or organisations, to the extent needed, to:
• help our clients with their legal problem (eg barristers/experts involved in the matter);
• resolve a complaint;
• respond to a submission or enquiry; and
• enable us to deliver our services and carry out our activities (eg external service providers for data storage/archives, courier/process server, etc).
In some cases, and in accordance with our legal obligations and/or your instructions, we may disclose personal information to an external body such as a court, tribunal, funding body, or review organisation such as Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Ombudsman or Legal Services Board and Commissioner.
We might also make other disclosures with your consent or otherwise as required or authorised by law.
We will not share your personal information with anyone outside Australia (unless under circumstances permitted or authorised by law) without your consent.
How does WHCLS store your personal information?
We store your personal information in various forms including electronic records, and paper files held in cabinets or stored offsite.
We take reasonable steps to ensure the personal information we hold is accurate, complete and current. We ask people to tell us when their personal information changes so we can update our records.
How WHCLS keep personal information safe
We take reasonable steps to protect personal information from loss, misuse, unauthorised access, modification and disclosure. To do this we use procedural, physical and technology safeguards.
We limit access to our workspaces and systems. We only use external data storage providers when they will also take reasonable steps to protect personal information.
We require our staff to handle personal information with care, and access only what they need to do their job. We support this with usage policies, information barriers and access controls. Although WHCLS is a service of Banyule Community Health, all WHCLS client information and details are kept confidentially by WHCLS staff and are not available to other Banyule Community Health staff or services.
We destroy hard copy information when we are no longer required by law to keep it. We do this in accordance with our legal obligations. In general, hard copy of client records can be destroyed 7 years after the file is closed or legal advice has been provided unless the client requests that they be kept longer.
WHCLS services are limited if you choose to remain anonymous
People can choose not to identify themselves when contacting us, but it may limit the level of service we can provide to them. We cannot provide legal advice without collecting personal information that is relevant to the matter.
WHCLS use unique identifiers
We create a client number for each person to whom we provide legal advice. This helps us keep a record of the services we provide, make appropriate referrals and avoid conflicts of interest.
How you can access and correct your personal information
Please contact us if you would like to access or correct the personal information that we hold about you. To protect your personal information, we may ask you to verify your identity before we process your request to access or correct your personal information.
We aim to respond to access and correction requests within 30 days unless it is a complex request.
If we have personal information about you that you have a right to access, we will contact you to arrange access. You may also request copies of certain documents from your legal file.
If we have personal information about you that we can’t give you access, we will explain why in writing.
You can ask us to correct personal information that we hold about you if you think they are inaccurate, out-of-date, incomplete, irrelevant or misleading.
If we agree that your personal information needs to be corrected, we will take reasonable steps to do so.
If we don’t agree that your personal information needs to be corrected, we will notify you in writing of:
• our decision and where possible, the reason for it; and
• the possible actions that you can take if you disagree with our decision.
We take complaints and concerns regarding privacy seriously.
Please contact us if you have a complaint about how we have collected or handled your personal information. You can raise the issue with your lawyer directly (if applicable), or with the Principal Lawyer. We may, depending on the complexity of the issue, ask you to lodge your complaint in writing.
We aim to resolve complaints quickly and fairly. In most instances, we aim to respond to your complaint within 30 days.
If you are not happy with our response or we have not responded to your complaint within a reasonable timeframe, you may lodge a privacy complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
All requests, complaints and queries can be directed to:
West Heidelberg Community Legal Service
Mail: 21 Alamein Road, West Heidelberg 3081
Phone: (03) 9450 2002
Fax: (03) 9458 1067
Changes to this Policy