Privacy & Confidentiality Policy
The Financial Rights Legal Centre Inc. (Financial Rights – ‘we’ ‘us’ and ‘our’ in this policy) respects the privacy of its clients and other individuals (‘you’, ‘your’). This policy applies to the handling of personal information by our centre.
Financial Rights has obligations, and you have rights, under Commonwealth and NSW privacy law. Our practice is committed to protecting your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (“Privacy Act”) and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)
As a legal and financial counselling practice we also have legal and ethical obligations in relation to confidentiality. Our Centre cannot disclose any client information that has come to them in their professional capacity and in the legitimate course of their professional employment except with your consent or in very narrow circumstances defined by law.
If you engage with us through online chat, please be aware that this service is run by both Financial Rights Legal Centre and CARE Consumer Law. Please see the section below for further details.
Collection of personal information
We collect personal information, sensitive and health information about you.
Personal information is information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.
Sensitive information includes information about your health, racial or ethnic origin, criminal record, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual orientation or practices, and genetic and biometric information.
This information is collected in situations where it is reasonably necessary or for a lawful purpose, including:
- When you use our services
- When another person, organisation or service provider contacts us on your behalf to request services for you
- When you attend a training session with us or engage with us in activities including law reform or research
- Engage with us on social media (such as Facebook or Twitter)
- Join our mailing list
- When you apply for a job or volunteer position
- When you make a donation
This information may be collected directly from you, by telephone, email, online (through access or use of our website, or submitting web enquiries, or online chat), mail, fax or face to face, and with your expressed consent, from third parties.
What personal information do we collect
The main types of information we collect include (but is not limited to):
- Your name, date of birth and contact details
- Names of other parties involved in your dispute
- Your personal information including gender, family type, language, Indigenous status, ethnicity
- Your financial situation – such as occupation, income details, insurance policies
- Your health information– including any mental or physical health conditions you have now or previously had, and any information about health service provision
- Any criminal history
- Details of your contact with our service
Information about your circumstances and the matter you are seeking assistance on
How do we use your personal information
We use information collected about you to provide you with information, advice, counselling or representation, or, if you agree, referring you to other organisations.
We may disclose the information to third parties with your consent, for the purpose of advice, counselling, support or representation.
We may use or disclose personal information to third parties if required to do so by law or in emergencies where life, health or safety of any person is at risk.
Research of policy projects
We may also collect personal information with your expressed consent, for purposes including research projects, or other policy projects. This may be in conjunction with other organisations such as universities or not-for-profit bodies. Full details would be provided to you beforehand and information will only be collected with your expressed consent.
Law reform submissions, policy work, media, funding or community educational sessions
We may use anonymised and de-identified information for purposes such as using the details about your situation as a case study for work including law reform submissions, policy work, media, funding or community education sessions.
This may be to explain what our service does, to convince the government or other relevant organisations that laws and/or industry practices need to change to improve consumer protection, or to provide the public or other workers with training or information.
Funding, fundraising and other promotional work
We are required to provide some information to funding agencies, whose use of it is governed by their own privacy policies, and these include procedures to ensure that small cohort reporting does not identify individuals. We do NOT provide funding agencies identifying information such as your name or address.
We may also use anonymous case studies or feedback provided to us in raising funds for our service, including through funding submissions and donations, and promoting our service.
We may seek your expressed consent for you to participate in media (such as newspaper or television articles).
Surveys, service improvement, monitoring and quality assurance
We may ask you to fill out a survey of your experience with our service, or you may volunteer feedback through other channels.
We may use information you have provided us to evaluate the effectiveness of our service, and to respond to your enquiries or complaints.
We may also seek your consent for us or a third party to contact you to participate in research or other evaluation activities. You do not need to give your consent to this and we will provide you with the same services whether or not you provide such consent.
Other uses of your personal information
We may also use your personal information to:
- Process donations
- Recruit staff
Information collected through our websites
All of the digital personal information we hold is hosted on servers located in Australia, but in the course of the provision of some internet services including cookies and web-analytics (including Google Analytics), some information may be held or processed outside Australia, most likely including the USA. Otherwise, we will not disclose personal information to overseas recipients other than with your expressed permission.
- Your geographical location and language
- Whether you are a first time or repeat user, when you access our website, your page views and duration spent on each page
- The platform and device you use to access our website (such as mobile/tablet/desktop, and iPhone/iPad/Samsung and the model of that device)
This may involve processing of some personal information outside Australia.
Information collected in these ways are used for statistical and systems administration purposes including continual improvement of our websites.
To the extent that these records might allow us to identify you we would not do so unless that is required by law or in emergencies.
Information collected through our website enquiry forms
If you choose to submit a website enquiry through our website enquiry forms, we collect any personal, sensitive and health information that you provide in that form.
Financial Rights Legal Centre and Care provide financial counselling services that respond to online chat enquiries through the www.ndh.org.au website run by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA)), as from 1 July 2022.
When you use online chat, your information is collected and used by:
Care and FRLC are separate entities based in different states, and each service’s internal databases are inaccessible to the other service.
Access to shared client materials occurs through the Freshchat interface only, in the form of:
- the initial incoming chat message which then gets assigned to one service as staff become available;
- chats are marked closed at the end of the conversation, or at the end of a person’s shift if the chatter has not responded.
Both services have a strict training and conflict policies in place that staff are not to access the other service’s chat histories as stored in Freshchat.
FCs will identify themselves in their initial greeting message as a financial counsellor working with FRLC or Care for new and reopened chats.
Chat histories may be seen by both services in very limited situations:
- Where a chat user reopens chat, their chat history is automatically directed by Freshchat to whichever service/s are responding to chat at the time can respond; This means any financial counsellor, from either service, can continue on from your previous chat without asking you to re-tell your story.
- On request by a chatter, if they ask to be directed to a particular service – chats may be transferred with the full chat history;
- Access by managers for quality assurance and ensuring we are meeting our ethical and professional obligations; or
- With express permission by the chat user.
Care and FRLC each will keep the personal information obtained by them through Freshchat confidential, including from the other service, except in the limited situations above. This information barrier is intended to allow us to help as many people as possible. CARE may assist one person, and FRLC may assist the other person – in the same dispute. The staff member assisting you can only help you if they have no actual knowledge of the other party’s situation. All your information is kept confidentially by the service that you interact with, and not shared with the other. FRLC and CARE do not access each other’s Freshchat histories due to the information barrier in place, except in the situations noted above.
Care and FRLC will not act where an actual conflict is identified. Each service cannot provide assistance to two parties who have different interests in relation to the same problem or dispute. Sometimes we will not be able to assist either party. In such cases we will refer you to another service if available. We cannot tell you that we have assisted, or are assisting, another person in your dispute and there are other reasons we may need to refer you to another service, including for example, staff resources at a particular time or the availability of another service with particular expertise.
Chat services are short, once-off information, advice or minor assistance services which are limited in time and scope. Ongoing casework is not provided through the chat interface. If you need more substantial or longer term assistance, one of our services will assist you outside the Freshchat platform. You may continue to interact with us using an electronic interface (rather than by phone or in person) if that is your preference.
If you have safety concerns, you can click the ‘Delete Chat’ button on chat so your previous messages can’t be seen on your computer or phone, but our financial counsellor can see your message and respond so please tell us how we can get back to you safely. We cannot see if you have clicked the ‘Delete Chat’ button.
If you engage with us through social media (such as Facebook or Twitter), we may collect personal information (and potentially sensitive information) depending on the nature of the interaction (eg. if you are requesting services from us).
You should check the privacy policies of these social media sites to see what information they collect from you.
Any information we collect may be used for statistical and systems administration purposes including continual improvement of our social media work. To the extent that these records might allow us to identify you we would not do so unless that is required by law or in emergencies.
Retention and Deletion of your personal information
As a legal and financial counselling service, we are required by law and/or professional standards obligations (including insurance) to retain certain records for minimum periods.
We have policies in place to minimise retention of unnecessary data, for instance:
- If you left a voicemail for us or started an online chat out of hours, we will generally delete your details from our internal records if we are unable to contact you. There may be exceptions, for instance,
- if you have provided a lot of personal information and may call back for advice or assistance:
- where we are of the view that it is required for a specific purpose arising from legal or other professional or ethical obligations.
Please note we may only have limited control over external records (such as data retained by our phone provider or within the online chat website).
- If you sent us an email enquiry, we will generally retain that on our system in case of repeat contact.
- If you contacted us by online chat, we only retain records where:
- we have provided substantive information or advice services to you or
- if the level of personal information you have provided to us or CARE is such that we need to retain it for ethical, legal or professional obligations.
Some chat records are not be identifiable if you have not provided a full name or other details, and we may not have access to your previous chat history if you open a new chat session with us.
If you would like us to delete data about you, you can make this request. We will assess your request and respond accordingly.
We take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is accurate, complete, up to date and relevant, and generally ‘fit for purpose’. You can assist us by notifying us promptly of any changes or relevant new information.
Security and storage
We take reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is protected and only disclosed to persons who have a need to know.
We use security measures including log-in and password protection, and we are rolling out multi-factor authentication, we use protections such as anti-virus software and encryption. We also ensure that any external service suppliers we engage who may hold your personal information (for instance, telecommunication service providers, website and IT providers) have security systems in place to protect your personal information.
Multi-factor authentication is enabled on the online chat platform by both our staff and CARE staff.
You should however be aware that there are risks involved in transmitting personal information over the internet or by email or chat. If you are concerned about this you may prefer to contact us on one of our advice lines such as
- 1800 844 949 (Legal Advice Line),
- 1800 88 488 (Mob Strong Debt Help), or
- 1300 663 464 (Insurance Law Service).
The Centre will close a client’s file once the matter is completed and archive all closed files for specific periods of time as required by law.
The Centre will take reasonable steps to destroy or de-personalise information once it is no longer needed, subject to other legislative/lega/client relations requirements.
Access and Correction
You have the right under privacy law to see any personal Information that Financial Rights holds about you, and to seek correction if you believe it is wrong.
Anonymity and pseudonymity
If we are providing general information only to you, you have the option of not providing your name or using a pseudonym.
For financial counselling or legal advice, task assistance or casework, we will require personal information such as your name and contact details. This is a mandatory requirement as we are a community legal centre and have professional and legal obligations to obtain this information.
Enquiries or Complaints
Any applications for access or correction, and privacy related enquiries or complaints should be directed to Financial Rights on:
(02) 9212 4216 or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your complaint will be referred to the relevant Director. If a written response is requested or copies of documents provided, we aim to have this issued within 2 weeks. Where there is a large volume of documents being requested or complex issues, we will provide you with an initial response within 2 weeks.
You have the right to complain about alleged breaches of privacy to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) See www.oaic.gov.au or call 1300 363 992.