Vic Government calls for submissions on health privacy Bill

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Vic Government calls for submissions on health privacy Bill

Victorian workers will soon have the protection of law to ensure employers don’t use their health records against them.

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Victorian workers will soon have the protection of law to ensure employers don’t use their health records against them.

The Victorian Minister for Health, John Thwaites, has developed a Draft Health Records Bill and is asking for submissions by 25 August, before he introduces it to Parliament in the Spring Session.

It will apply to all Victorian businesses – public and private sector, profit and non-profit. Any organisation breaching the legislation could face criminal penalties.

The Bill is a companion to the Information Privacy Bill 2000, introduced to Parliament in the Autumn Session, which applies only to the public sector. The new Draft Bill:

  • provides for use or disclosure of information only with the consent of the individual;
  • governs how information will be collected, and who will be able to access it; and
  • gives right of complaint to the Health Services Commissioner.

Victoria’s Department of Human Services has prepared information about the Draft Bill on its website. It says information privacy is an internationally recognised human right, and the Bill aims to empower individuals to control the collection, use and dissemination of personal information about themselves. The adoption of the Bill would grant the essential right 'to have information which is about you handled in accordance with your reasonable expectations'.

It said studies had increasingly shown privacy of information was of serious concern to individuals, 'particularly in light of the increasing range of information and electronic technologies that collect and store personal information'.

'Privacy and security concerns will have particular relevance to the use of information technology in health services such as electronic health records', the Department of Human Services website said.

While privacy rights are recognised in many policy documents, there are at present limited legal recourse for individuals to enforce them.

A number of reports by government and non-government organisations have recommended comprehensive privacy protection, and right of access, to health records. The Draft Bill builds upon health record legislation and policy existing in other Australian jurisdictions and internationally.

 

 

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