OPA collects personal and health information which is necessary for its investigation, advocacy, guardianship, community visitor, independent third person and advice service functions and activities.
Much of the work of OPA is linked to VCAT. Where VCAT refers a matter to OPA for investigation, or appoints the Public Advocate as guardian for an individual, OPA is required by law to collect information to assist in investigating applications or to enable a guardian to make informed decisions for a person with a disability.
The Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 empowers the Public Advocate to require information from individuals or organisations when investigating financial, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or neglect in relation to a person with a disability and there is a need for guardianship.
What OPA does with your personal and health information
OPA only provides your information to other organisations or individuals in order to fulfil the primary purpose for which the information was collected.
In cases where OPA is your guardian or acting as your medical treatment decision maker, disclosure of information must accord with OPA’s obligations to act in accordance with the general and decision-making principles under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 and with regard to rights and obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the Health Records Act 2001.
Sometimes, the law may require OPA to disclose your information without your consent, for example, where a person with a disability is at risk of serious abuse or neglect or where we are acting under an order of, or referral from, VCAT.
How does OPA keep and protect your personal and health information?
OPA uses a case management system to store your information safely. Each OPA file has a number (a unique identifier) which OPA does not share with other organisations. OPA does not adopt the unique identifier of other agencies as its own.
Client and facility files are held securely. Where OPA volunteers have personal or health information, they are required to store this information securely. This means that your information should not be misused or lost or accessed by an inappropriate person.
OPA’s telephone advice service collects and records information provided by callers electronically, in order to assist with your enquiry. This information can only be accessed by OPA staff. You can, of course, use our telephone advice service and remain anonymous.