Commitment to privacy
The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) is committed to protecting the privacy of your personal and health information.
We must comply with a number of laws when dealing with your information, including the Mental Health Act 2014 (the Act), the Health Records Act 2001, the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
We will not disclose your personal or health information in a way that identifies you, unless you consent or we are authorised or required to do so by law.
This policy explains:
- what ‘personal and health information’ means
- why we collect personal and health information
- when we collect personal and health information from other people or organisations
- what we do with information that we collect
- anonymous enquiries and complaints
- how we store and protect personal and health information
- how you can request access to the information that we keep about you, or ask us about correcting factual information that we have about you.
What is personal and health information?
Personal information is recorded information that can identify a living person.
Health information is information that can identify a person, including a person who has died, that relates to the person’s physical, mental or psychological health, disability or genetic make-up. It also includes information about the health services provided, or that will be provided, to a person.
Why do we collect personal and health information?
We collect personal and health information to perform our functions under the Act. Our functions include:
- resolving complaints about Victoria’s public mental health services
- providing information, education and advice to mental health services about their complaint policies and procedures
- identifying, analysing and reviewing quality and safety issues arising from complaints and making recommendations to improve mental health services
- conducting investigations and issuing compliance notices.
The type of information that we collect depends on the function that we are performing. For example, if you make a complaint to us about a mental health service, we will collect information to try to resolve your concerns. This will include your name and contact details. It may also include information about your mental health, your treatment and care, and the health practitioners involved in your treatment and care.
We also collect personal information if a person tells us that they would like to receive information from us or participate in an awareness raising activity that we have organised.
Collecting information from other people or organisations
Complaints from consumers
If you are a consumer (the person receiving the mental health service), with your consent, we may collect personal or health information about you from mental health services or other people or organisations to help you resolve your concerns.
Complaints from other people
We can also accept complaints from a person acting at the request of a consumer or someone who has a genuine interest in the consumer’s wellbeing. If we do this, we will collect information about the person making the complaint and about the consumer.
In most of these cases, we will seek the consumer’s consent before collecting information about them. However, we may collect information without the consent of the consumer when we are authorised by the Act to:
- accept complaints without obtaining the consumer’s consent - we can do this if we are satisfied that there are special circumstances and accepting the complaint will not harm the consumer’s wellbeing
- help a person resolve a complaint directly with a mental health service.
What do we do with the information that we collect?
We have a legal obligation to keep personal and health information confidential and to disclose it only:
- if we need to do so to perform our functions
- with your consent
- as otherwise authorised or required by law.
We use and disclose personal and health information for the purpose it was provided. For example, if the information was provided for the purpose of making a complaint, we will use and disclose that information to respond to the complaint.
We may also use and disclose personal and health information that is de-identified where appropriate:
- to make recommendations for improving mental health services
- for planning, research, funding, monitoring and evaluation purposes.
De-identified information may also be used and disclosed:
- to report on our activities
- for education and training activities.
Can I make an anonymous enquiry or complaint?
You can contact us to make an enquiry or a complaint without identifying yourself. However, to accept your complaint, we will need you to give us your name and contact details. You can ask us to keep your identity confidential, but this may affect the way the mental health service can respond to the complaint.
How do we store and protect personal and health information?
We take reasonable steps to keep the personal and health information that we hold accurate, complete and up-to-date. We store this information securely and use a number of standard safeguards to protect it from unauthorised access, misuse, loss, modification and disclosure. We also give each complaint that we receive its own record number – we do not use or copy special numbers or other unique identifiers from other organisations.
We retain and destroy records according to the requirements of the Public Records Act 1973.
Can I access or correct the information about me that is held by the MHCC?
You can ask to access your personal or health information by contacting our FOI (Freedom of Information) Officer.
You can also contact our FOI officer if you think the personal or health information that we hold about you is factually inaccurate and you want to ask us to correct it.
Questions and complaints
Phone: 1800 246 054 (free call from landlines) or 03 9032 3328
Mail: Mental Health Complaints Commissioner
Level 26, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Fax: 03 9949 1506
You also have the right to take your complaint to someone else. If your complaint concerns personal information, you can contact the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection.
If your complaint concerns health information, you can contact the Health Services Commissioner.