When you get involved with an organisation, they must keep your personal and health information private and confidential. The organisation also has a legal responsibility to protect you from risk or injury – what’s called their ‘duty of care’. And they must always have your consent before they involve you in any project, activity or piece of research.
To involve you in an activity, project or piece of research, an organisation needs to have your consent (your agreement). You don’t have to be 18 to give your consent. The law states that young people can give consent if they have the mental ability and maturity to understand the nature and effect of what they are consenting to. But if you are under 18, an organisation might want still to get your parent or guardian’s consent in addition to your consent.
Your consent has to be informed – meaning you understand the situation and consequences of taking part. And it has to be given freely – meaning you have made your own decision and not been pressured or tricked.
A duty of care is a legal requirement to take reasonable care to protect you from risk of injury. Any organisation that involves you in a project, program, event or activity, owes you this duty of care. You can ask to see an organisation’s duty of care policy – their written guidelines – at any point.
Any service or organisation should treat the information you give them as confidential – meaning they don’t share it with anyone else.
Be aware that some people who work with young people are legally required to tell the police if you tell them something that worries them about your safety, or someone else’s safety. If someone feels they need to share information you’ve told them with others, they should tell you before they do this. The organisation’s duty of care policy should describe the kind of situations this might happen in.
Personal information is stuff that can identify you – like your name, address, date of birth, etc. Health information is information about your physical or mental health, or information about any disability you may have. It could also include information about how you access health services.
Sensitive information is a form of personal information that includes information about your racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious beliefs, sexual preference, group membership or criminal record. You should only be asked to provide sensitive information if it’s needed by a government-funded welfare or educational service, or for research of these services.
If an organisation asks you to provide them with personal or health information – for example, through a consultation or other research – they must be able to explain:
This is called a privacy statement. A privacy statement will usually be given to you (or read to you) before you take part in an activity or piece of research, or as it begins.
There are several laws that control how organisations can collect, use and keep your personal and health information.
If you’re worried about your privacy, or think that someone might have shared your information without your consent, you can contact Privacy Victoria.
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