Community Services and your privacy

The NSW Government's privacy practices in collecting, storing, using and disclosing personal and health information are regulated by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (Privacy Act) and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (Health Privacy Act) . These laws have privacy principles that tell us:

  • what information we can collect and how we collect it
  • how we store and protect personal and health information
  • how you can find out what information we hold and correct it if it is wrong
  • how we can use and disclose your information including special protection for health and other sensitive information
  • how you can complain about breaches of your privacy.

Privacy notice

This privacy notice applies to the Department of Family and Community Services (the Department) which consists of the following entities: Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Housing NSW, Strategy and Policy, Corporate Services, the Land and Housing Corporation, the Aboriginal Housing Office and also the Home Care Service. The Department and its related agencies comply with NSW privacy legislation when collecting and managing personal and health information. The information we collect from you or from an authorised third party will be held by the entity that collects it, or by NSW Businesslink, the Government owned company that provides corporate support to the Department. It will be used to deliver services and to meet our legal responsibilities. We may also use your information within the Department as a whole to plan, coordinate and improve the way we provide services. The Department is also legally authorised to disclose information to outside bodies in certain circumstances.

Further information about your privacy rights can be found on the FACS website: http://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/site_information/privacy  
our FACS privacy factsheet
or by calling: 02 9377 6000 or TTY 02 9377 6167
or by emailing: privacy@facs.nsw.gov.au

Personal and health information

We are committed to respecting the privacy rights of clients, employees and others with whom we do business.

Our policies and procedures aim to ensure client information is collected, stored and used in accordance with the requirements of the privacy legislation.

They also provide our staff, and the organisations we deal with, with a clear understanding of their obligations to protect the personal and health information of clients.

We have a policy of “need to know”, that is, only those officers dealing directly with the cases of particular clients should have access to their personal information.

We keep personal information securely. We do not share the personal information of our clients with other staff unless it is necessary to provide services. We do not share the personal information of our clients with any outside person or body, unless we are legally authorised to do so.

What is your personal information?

Your personal information relates to you personally. You don't have to be named in the information, it's only necessary that your identity can reasonably be worked out from the information.

Personal information is found not just in paper files, but also in such things as electronic records and photographs.

Health personal information is information or an opinion about your physical or mental health or disability. It includes information about health services relating to you.

What is not personal information?

Information is not protected by the Privacy legislation if, for example, it:

  • can be found in a publicly available publication (such as a newspaper or book)
  • is in a public register
  • relates to someone's suitability for public sector employment (for example, resumes and information obtained from referees)
  • is about people who have been dead for more than 30 years
  • relates to some types of law enforcement and investigation activities
  • is allowed to be disclosed under another piece of legislation.

Your privacy rights and personal information

If you think that we have misused your personal information, you can make a complaint to FACS or to the Information and Privacy Commission NSW. This can happen if we do not follow the information protection principles for dealing with, collecting, storing or disclosing your personal information.

You can ask us to amend personal information held in FACS’ records using the form to request amendments to personal records.

Lodging a privacy complaint

To lodge a complaint with FACS about how we've handled your personal information, you need to put your complaint in writing and send it to FACS within six months of becoming aware that FACS may have mishandled your information. You will need to supply a return address in Australia for us to reply to you.

You can either:

E-mail your complaint to privacycs@facs.nsw.gov.au

Fax

print and complete the privacy complaint form and fax it to 02 6683 5680

Mail

OR print and complete the privacy complaint form and post it to:

Privacy Contact Officer
Community Services, Legal Services Branch
Department of Family and Community Services
Locked Bag 4028
Ashfield NSW 2131

There is no cost to lodge a complaint or request an internal review under NSW privacy legislation.

The Privacy Contact Officer will look into your complaint and a review should be completed within 60 days. FACS will then decide how to address your complaint and will notify you about the findings of the review and the action we propose to take.

If you are not happy with the decision, you have the right to have the findings and the reasons for the findings, reviewed by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

If you would like to speak with the Privacy Contact Officer, ring 02 6623 4962.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)