As of 12 March 2014, the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) replaced the National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles and apply to organisations and Australian Government Agencies.
In total there are 13 APPs from Schedule 1 of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012, which amends the Privacy Act 1988. You can access the full guidelines from http://www.oaic.gov.au/images/documents/privacy/applying-privacy-law/app-guidelines/APP_guidelines_complete_version_1_March_2014.pdf
Your privacy matters.
We get that its tough enough to go through the legal process and fight with the insurance company without having to worry about what happens to your personal information.
So our policy reflects this concern and spells out the who, what, where, why and how of personal information collection, usage, exchange, disclosure and access because if we were in your shoes that is what we would want.
So lets get started.
Collection: What information do we get?
Personal information refers to any information or any opinion, whether true or not, from which an individual’s identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained.
We need to collect a vast array of information because in essence we need to capture and understand your life before and after your accident. We start with the basics like current and all previous names, your age, sex, contact details and next of kin details so that we can be certain that we have correctly identified you and also enabled any conflict checks. We then expand our requests outwardly and start capturing things like your full medical history, full employment history, full education and training history, and so on. Sometimes the layers of information delve into hobbies, past times and other ancillary activities but only so far as they relate to your claim.
In some cases we may need to collect ‘sensitive’ information about you, or others, for or in relation to legal proceedings. ‘Sensitive’ information is classified as information about a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions or associations, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, trade and professional memberships, sexual preferences or practices, criminal record or health information. Under the APPs we are entitled to gather sensitive information about you or others for a number of reasons including where the collection is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of a legal or equitable claim.
Collection: Where do we get this information from?
The information we request comes from a wide and varied source however we can give you an idea by listing the following more common places
- Government agencies
- Private Institutions
- Public Institutions
Collection: How do we get information?
We will collect information via four main routes either by telephone, written correspondence, facsimile or electronic means (such as email).
Collection: Internet Usage & Cookies
We collect small amounts of information from people who visit our website by using ‘cookies’. Cookies are unique identification numbers that are placed on the browser of our website users. The ‘cookies’ don’t identify the users directly but link back to a database record about them. The information captured by ‘cookies’ helps to provide useful information about how our website is used, some of the information captured can include things like: the address of the user’s server, user’s top level domain, date and time of user’s visit, pages accessed and downloaded by user, search engine user used and the type of browser used. When you visit our website a cookie may be placed on your machine and if you visit us again the cookie may count the number of visits. This information is only captured for statistical purposes and used only to improve our website.
Examples Of What We Get
Here is a sample of the main places we write to to give you an idea. This is not a full list. Our requests for information can be very broad but they must always be relevant to our primary purpose which is valuing your claim and working out who is to blame for the accident. Some of the information has to be paid for before it is released to us – when we pay for information we call that a “disbursement”.
WHY: Tells us what physical and psychological condition you were in before and after the accident
We request information from hospitals (public and private), general practitioners, medical specialists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, chiropractors, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, orthodontists, podiatrists, optometrists and so on.
WHY: Tells us where you worked, what you did and how much you got paid before and after the accident
We request information from the Australian Taxation Office, employers, accountants as well as ABN searches through Australian Securities and Information Commission. We may also ask you for invoice books or bank statements as proof of income and request any other information that may assist us in determining your financial loss.
Freedom of information
WHY: Provides us with another layer of information to cross reference against and compare to make sure everything lines up and is accurate.
We request information from Medicare Australia (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Patient History Summary), Centrelink, Queensland Police, Queensland Transport, Q Comp, WorkCover Queensland, Self-Insurers, Schools and Universities and so on.
WHY: The CTP insurer must pay money back to places that have paid for your treatment or other. Because they are responsible for your injuries. This money is added to your claim.
We request information from Medicare Australia, Private Health Insurers, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Careflight, Centrelink, Public Hospitals (if the CTP insurer is outside Queensland), WorkCover and so on.
Other bits of information
We will always do our best to get information directly from you however this may not always be possible and if we need to speak to third parties about your personal information we will do our best to write to you and notify you in advance. We may not be able to represent you if you do not allow us to gather certain information. If necessary we also request statements from witnesses, co-workers, friends, family or others to provide us with another layer of proof.
Your personal information may also be used for secondary activities like providing you with updated information about the law, offering you services other than our primary service if we feel we can be of assistance and developing and improving our service delivery.
How We Store Your Information
We keep an electronic copy of your information stored in our practice management program which is operated by LEAP software and stored in a secure location within Australia.
We will periodically arrange to meet with you to discuss the information we have gathered and to take instructions from you explaining any questions we might have. This close connection with the process ensures you have proper understanding, control and empowerment.
Usage, Exchange & Disclosure: Why do we get information?
Without collecting all the varied information we need we cannot provide a complete picture to the CTP insurer about the full impact of the accident on your life and we risk undervaluing your claim.
Usage, Exchange & Disclosure: Who do we give it to?
The information we collect is given to three distinct groups.
First and foremost we are required by law to give certain information over to the CTP insurer, all the records described above would fall into that category. Some peripheral information like traffic history or criminal history may be requested from the CTP insurer but it will need to be relevant to your claim and they may require a court order if we dispute the request.
Secondly we provide selected information to certain experts for their professional opinion, for example:
We would provide barristers with a carbon copy of our full file so that they could provide us with a fully informed balanced opinion about your likelihood of winning your claim and the likely value of your claim.
We would provide copies of your medical records, medical reports (including other expert reports), your WorkCover file, any documents within your Centrelink file that describe injuries or treatment, and any other information relevant to assessing your degree of permanent whole person impairment and any future treatment needs.
Crash Investigation Experts
We would provide copies of the traffic incident report completed by the Queensland Police Service along with photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage repair reports, as well as statements from witnesses and any other information relevant to reconstructing the accident.
We would provide both medical information and financial information, medical information usually an Occupational Therapist report as it outlines your ability to do certain tasks, and all your financial information relevant to assessing your past loss of earnings and calculating your future loss.
We may be required to brief certain specialists for their opinion on a range of issues for your claim. If the request is unusual or expensive we will contact you to explain why we need the report and detail what information will be provided to the specialist and why.
Finally, the collection of information often requires providing some basic identifying details to other parties like your name, date of birth, address, date of accident or injuries so that they can be sure they are providing us with the correct information.
Staff or Agents of Maelstrom Lawyers
Your personal information will be necessarily handled by staff members of Maelstrom Lawyers.
From time to time Maelstrom Lawyers will be required to outsource certain tasks to agents and they will be provided with your personal information. The usage of agents would most commonly arise at the beginning of a claim, to obtain photographs of the accident scene or other relevant spots, to obtain statements from witnesses or other relevant parties or to assist with the management of your claim in other ways.
Access: Can I Get A Copy Of My Information?
You can request a copy of your personal information and we will generally provide you with full disclosure in a form that best suits your needs. You can request a copy of your personal information in writing to PO Box 6770, Gold Coast Mail Centre 9726 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can restrict access to information if we believe doing so: would pose a serious threat to life, health or safety of any individual or to public health or safety, would have unreasonable impact upon the privacy of others and is frivolous or vexatious. We can also restrict access to information if doing so is prohibited by court order or under Australian law or if the disclosure would compromise our position or the position of others in anticipated or existing legal disputes or negotiations.
We will generally not charge you for access to your personal information however if your documents are quite voluminous we will advise if of any ‘at-cost’ charges that may apply.
Your Personal Information Has Changed?
Please let us know when your personal information changes so that we can update our systems. You should contact us within 1 month of any changes to your contact details so that we can maintain contact with you.
Complaints: You Are Not Happy About Something?
Speak To Us First
We strive to provide excellent service all the time, without fail. However, if we fall short of the mark we want to know. Because it is this valuable feedback that helps us improve our services.
The best place to start is contacting us directly and providing us with details of your grievance.
You should provide a written complaint outlining your grievance and address it Maelstrom Lawyers, PO Box 6770, Gold Coast Mail Centre 9726 or email email@example.com with the title “Complaint”.
We will then contact you to discuss your grievance, we will offer to meet with you, we will listen carefully to what you tell us, discuss ways in which we can improve our delivery or rectify the issue and put in place a system to ensure the risk of this issue happening again is greatly reduced.
Speak To The Office Of Australian Information Commissioner
If you are still not happy with our response, you can contact the Office of Australian Information Commissioner by telephone on 1300 363 992 within Australia or +61 2 9284 9749 from outside of Australia. If you have a disability, require assistance or a translator you can contact the office on 133 677 (teletypewriter users) then ask for 1300 363 992, or 1300 555 727 (speak and listen users) then ask for 1300 363 992 or 131 450 (non-English speakers) then ask for 1300 363 992. In writing by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001. By facsimile to +61 2 9284 9666. In person at Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000