Understanding your privacy

Ashcliffe is a private psychology practice that provides psychological services and is required to abide by the legal, ethical and professional requirements that are mandated for any psychology practice in Australia. In general terms, as well as obeying the law of the land, these requirements ensure we abide by the regulations and ethical obligations established by:

The Australian Health Professional Registration Authority

    • The Psychology Board of Australia
    • The Australian Privacy Principles (2014)
    • All Federal and State privacy legislation
    • The Australian Psychological Society – Code of Ethics

The Australian Government has established privacy legislation which, in 2014, incorporated the Australian Privacy Principles. These set out the rules for collecting and handling an individual’s personal information. Ashcliffe Pty Ltd makes every effort to comply with privacy legislation and the Australian Privacy Principles. Here are some common questions to assist you to understand our privacy policy.

Q.        Why do you collect my personal information?

A.         It’s necessary to collect your personal information to assist the psychologist you’re consulting to attend to your needs. Any information about you that we collect at Ashcliffe is considered to be “sensitive information” for the purposes of privacy legislation. This means that when you attend the Ashcliffe office for counselling or psychological support, we need to ensure you’re aware of the information we collect, and what services we can and can’t provide.  At the first consultation, we supply you with this information and obtain your consent to gather information about you.

Q.        Is my personal information always kept confidential?

A.         Yes, under the Privacy Legislation your personal information must remain confidential. Unless we have your permission, we cannot release any information about you to your employer, one of your family members, or your doctor, not even your name. Even if you have told someone it’s OK for us to talk with them, your consent is essential for Ashcliffe to release or discuss any of your personal information. We usually ask for this in writing.

However, you need to be aware of two further circumstances when your personal information is released. The first comes under our Duty of Care, if you pose a risk of serious harm to yourself or others. The second is when we are required by a Court of Law, via a Subpoena, to provide your file, or to give evidence in Court. If any of these circumstances arise, we will make every attempt to advise you of what we’re doing with your personal information.

Q.        How secure is the storage of my personal information?

A.         As a psychology practice, we are legally obliged to securely maintain our client data. At Ashcliffe we use an electronic data storage and retrieval system which has been developed specifically for Australian psychological practices and incorporates the highest level of data security possible. We restrict access to this data and all Ashcliffe staff are trained in the importance of maintaining your confidentiality and the integrity of our data storage.

Q.        Am I able to access my personal information?

A.         Yes, you can access your personal information held by Ashcliffe at any time and at no cost. If you request a copy of your personal information held on file by Ashcliffe, we will firstly verify your identity and then determine with you how to get this information to you in a manner that protects your privacy.

Q.        Can my GP, or any other treating health practitioner, have access to my personal information held by Ashcliffe?

A.         Yes, with your written consent, we are happy to consult with other treating practitioners and make available your personal information.

Q.        If my lawyer or insurer needs access to my personal records held by Ashcliffe, will they be provided?

A.         Yes, with your written consent, we are prepared to provide your records to anyone authorised by you to obtain these. However, we would prefer to provide your records to you first when the request comes from a lawyer or insurer, as this gives your authority over your personal records, which you can then pass on to the person making the request.

Q.        If my employer pays for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), what information is given to the organisation?

A.         Generally under an EAP contractual agreement, program providers are required to supply general, non-identifying, statistical information about how the EAP service is being used. These are general statistics only. Please be assured that we take your privacy seriously and go to great lengths to ensure the anonymity of anyone using an EAP service. No information that can identify any individual employee is provided to your employer.

Q.        What happens if I’m sent for a fitness for work assessment? I’ve been told I have to give permission for a report to be sent to my employer. Can I get a copy of my report?

A.         “Fitness for Work”, or any formal assessment, is a different process to an EAP. It is conducted by an Ashcliffe Psychologist. However, your written consent for a report to be sent to your employer is required and you can withdraw that consent at any time. If you don’t give consent, the process will not continue. A copy of the report is also sent to you. We work on an open and transparent process. When a report is sent to your employer, you will also receive a copy.

Q.        If my child, under the age of 18, attends counselling at Ashcliffe, am I able to access his or her personal information?

A.         The rights of children (even those under 18) to the privacy of their health information are covered in the privacy legislation. Consistent with the law, it may be necessary to restrict access to personal information by parents, guardians or other caretakers. Please discuss this with the psychologist you’re seeing at the first consultation.

Understanding your privacy - Ashcliffe Psychology