Canberra Community Law respects clients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality and complies with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) contained in the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (as amended). These principles govern the collection and treatment of sensitive and personal information. In particular, the principles deal with accuracy of such recorded information, the disclosure of this information, the storage of this information and the destruction of these private information records.
In order to assist you, we need to keep certain records (client files), which typically include certain personal details about you, private information about your legal needs and our legal advice to you.
We only collect information from you and about you that we need in order to provide services to you.
The only people who have any access to our confidential client information are: our staff and our volunteers, who are required, as part of their service, to treat any information held as highly confidential. If a barrister is retained to act or we refer your matter to another organisation, they would also be given relevant information about your case. In Tribunal/Court matters, of course, relevant private information will also be disclosed to the Tribunal/Court and other parties.
The information that you provide to us is treated carefully and confidentiality. It will not be given to anyone else without your consent, unless we are legally required to so this.
Canberra Community Law is also committed to protecting your personal information from misuse or loss, from unauthorized access, modification and disclosure, and will take reasonable steps to do so. Your information is kept securely in our office storage and/or in our electronic database.
It is important to understand that in order to run our free legal advice and related services, we must have professional indemnity insurance. If a professional negligence claim is made against us, we have to notify our insurer about the relevant case. For insurance purposes, we may need to allow other legal agencies to randomly check our files. Your file or information held by Canberra Community Law about you may be included in this check. The legal agencies carrying out this check will also keep your information confidential.
By speaking with us about your case, you are accepting that your rights to privacy are subject to additional considerations.
In most cases, you can gain access to personal information that we hold about you.
We will deal with all requests for access to personal information as quickly as possible. Request for large amounts of information, or information not currently in use, may require further time before a response can be given.
If we refuse you access we will provide you with reasons for our refusal.
As part of our funding agreement, we are required to provide to funding bodies statistical information about our services. Our clients’ personal information and details of individual legal matters will not be provided to funding bodies; however, this information is necessary for Canberra Community Law’s internal records.
Once your file has been closed Canberra Community Law is required to keep it for a period of seven years, after which time your file may be destroyed. There are some limited situations where files are kept for longer than 7 years.
Please contact Canberra Community Law’s Co-ordinator/Principal Solicitor if you wish to make a complaint about how we have handled your private information. We will try to deal with your complaint as soon as possible.
If you are dissatisfied with any action we then take, you can also make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.