Online counselling privacy statement

Living Well is committed to ensuring appropriate privacy in matters relating to the information which you share with us as a client of our service. Living Well is provided under the protection of the National Privacy Principles as outlined in the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, amended by the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000.

  1. Collection of personal information
    1. Counselling records
    2. Generic data collection
    3. Data quality
  2. Use and sharing of information
  3. Security of personal information
  4. Length of time information is stored
  5. Limits of confidentiality
  6. Openness and access
  7. Your email address
  8. Anonymity
  9. Feedback

1) Collection of personal information

In order to provide you with online counselling there is certain information which Living Well needs to collect.

  • Your name
  • Your suburb/city
  • A valid email address

This information is collected from the registration form that you complete when you register on this website. Providing any other contact information is optional.

1.a) Counselling records

Case records regarding the content of your service are held securely. These will be stored separately from any personally identifying information in order to ensure your privacy. Access to this information is closely monitored and restricted only to those persons who are involved in providing you with service.

1.b) Generic data collection

The Living Well website uses cookies for login purposes. Cookies are information packets sent between a web server and a web browser, enabling tracking and generic data collection. This includes:

  • IP address and browser type
  • Date and time the website was accessed
  • The Internet address of the website from which you were referred.

This information is generic, meaning there is no way to identify you by it. However if you would rather we did not collect it, you can set your web browser to notify you when you receive a cookie, and you can refuse to allow it. It is important to note that refusing some cookies may make it impossible to use or navigate the Living Well website properly.

1.c) Data quality

Living Well will endeavour to ensure personal information is gathered accurately and completely and kept up to date.

2) Use and sharing of information

Any information you provide to Living Well will be used for a specific purpose, and only that purpose, as detailed below.

  • Information necessary for your counsellor to provide you with service will only be accessible by your counsellor and, where necessary, their supervisor. Every instance of access to this data must be recorded and accounted for.
  • Generic data as outlined in section 1.2 above is only to be used to improve the service and website usability. Living Well does not combine data collected in this way with any personally identifiable information.
  • Demographic data may be provided in an unidentifiable form to relevant government funding bodies as required.

No attempt will be made to identify anonymous users of the website, except in the event of an investigation or to protect someone from harm.

We undertake not to share your personal information with any other party, except where required by law.

3) Security of personal information

We undertake to ensure your records are secure against loss; unauthorised access, use, modification or disclosure; and against other misuse. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used to encrypt and protect the security of data passing between your browser and our servers. All data is then stored in a secure database with strict access protocols (as briefly described in item 2.a above).

4) Length of time information is stored

Generic and demographic information will be stored for as long as is deemed necessary for its purposes and will be permanently destroyed once it is no longer needed.

Upon completion of your service, your counselling records will be held in restricted archives for a period of seven years, after which time they will be securely and permanently destroyed. If clients are under the age of 18, records will be held until the client has turned 25.

5) Limits of confidentiality

Living Well is committed to ensuring that what is discussed in session, whether in live chat, email, on the phone or in person, is confidential. All services are provided under the protection of the National Privacy Principles as outlined in the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988. Under the Act, Living Well is required to provide information where:

  • it is evident that a crime and/or abuse against a child is being or will be committed;
  • it is evident that harm to self or another is being or will be committed,
  • it is revealed that a criminal act under the Commonwealth or State law has been or is intended to be committed;
  • records are requested by subpoena, Court Order, Search Order;
  • information is requested per condition of original service entry (for example: fee for service); or
  • information is required to attain referral to another service.

In all instances you will be advised of the request for information before such information is released.

6) Openness and Access

Living Well will always be open about counselling practices regarding management of personal information. If you require access to your individual counselling records, Living Well can provide you with this information. You (the client) will need to submit a request in writing and have a valid reason for requiring this information. You will not be permitted access to the information of any other party, including a partner or child, without their written consent.

7) Your email address

Living Well will only record your email address when you register on our website. Your email address is then used:

  • to send you confirmation of your registration,
  • to reset your registration password (as requested),
  • to confirm your counselling sessions,
  • to send you transcripts of counselling sessions (as requested), or
  • by your counsellor to engage in email counselling.

We do request an alternative contact method, such as telephone or postal address, however this is not required. This information is useful for us in case your email address does not work, however we will only contact you by these alternative contact methods with your permission.

Your email address, and any other contact information, will only be used in the manner outlined above, and will not be used or disclosed for any other purpose without your prior written consent.

8) Anonymity

If you so choose, and we are able, Living Well will deal with you anonymously. You have the option of filling out the NAME field on the registration form with a pseudonym. We ask that you correctly enter your date of birth and post code in order to facilitate the use of non-identifiable demographic data to improve our services. Please be assured that we will not attempt to identify you except as clearly outlined in the Online counselling service agreement.

9) Feedback

The Living Well website may every so often include surveys that ask you for feedback on the services provided. This information is used to improve our service, and may be provided (in a de-identified format) to relevant government funding bodies as required.

More information about Privacy law and National Privacy Principles can be found at www.privacy.gov.au

 

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