Privacy and confidentiality
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 in the provision of advice, counselling and casework services, including the National Debt Helpline, the Credit and Debt Legal Advice line, the Insurance Law Service (ILS), the Caseworker Hotline and Mob Strong Debt Help.
Financial Rights has obligations, and you have rights, under Commonwealth and NSW privacy law. Our practice is designed around a highest common standard.
As a legal and financial counselling practice we also have legal and ethical obligations in relation to confidentiality. Solicitors and financial counsellors may not 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. Because a client’s instructions are given to the legal practice and not just the individual solicitor or financial counsellor, the duty is binding on all staff and volunteers within the Centre.
Collection of personal information
We collect personal information both directly from you, by telephone, email, online or face to face, and from third parties in the course of providing advice or casework. With your informed consent we may collect sensitive information including about your financial affairs.
Use and Disclosure of personal information
We will generally only use personal information about you, or disclose it to third parties, for the purposes of providing you with advice, counselling or representation, or, if you agree, referring you to other organisations.
We will sometimes use anonymous case studies based on the experience of our clients to explain what our service does, or to convince the government or other relevant organisations that laws and/or industry practices need to change to improve consumer protection.
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 use information you have provided us to evaluate the effectiveness of our service. We may also seek your consent for us or a third party to contact you to participate in research or other evaluation activities. We will provide you with the same services whether or not you agree to participate in these activities.
We may also use or disclose personal information to third parties if required to do so by law; in emergencies where life, health or safety of any person is at risk.
All of the personal information we hold is hosted on servers located in Australia, but in the course of the provision of some internet services including web-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 at your express request.
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.
We take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is protected and only disclosed to persons who have a need to know. You should however be aware that there are risks involved in transmitting personal information over the internet or by email. If you are concerned about this you may prefer to contact us on 1800 844 949 (Credit and Debt Legal Advice Line), 1300 663 464 (Insurance Law Service), or Mob Strong Debt Help on 1800 808 488.
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/client relations management 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.
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
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.
National Debt Helpline
National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems. We’re not a lender and we don’t ‘sell’ anything or make money from you. Our professional financial counsellors offer a free, independent and confidential service.
We’re simply here to help you get back on track
Please note, the National Debt Helpline in NSW is answered by both Uniting Care, which provides telephone financial counselling, but does not have solicitors available, and Financial Rights Legal Centre. Our services are run separately, neither service has access to any information or advice given to or by the other service.
If you get through to Financial Rights and you would like to speak to Uniting, please tell the staff member who answers the phone and they will transfer you. Similarly Uniting can refer people back to Financial Rights if, for example, you have spoken to us before and we have records of your situation.
For legal advice or to contact Financial Rights – 1800 844 949
If you or your client are having difficulty contacting our advice service because of a disability or problems using an interpreter service, please let us know on our administration line (02) 9212 4216.
If you are simply having difficulty getting through to us, please be patient and persistent – we are a small service with limited resources and we are often very busy! You can leave a message if you wait long enough.
What YOU should do BEFORE you call
- Read any relevant Fact sheets on our website.
- Please do NOT call on behalf of someone else. We will NOT be able to provide any advice, only general information.
- Please have any relevant documents at hand. Examples could include:
- Bank statements
- Bills and account statements
- Legal notices
- Letters received
- Please have a PEN and PAPER handy, as we will often give you phone numbers to call or websites to visit.
- Think about what you are hoping to achieve in your situation.
Legal Assistance (not just Legal Advice)
In some cases, clients may be eligible for Further Assistance from Financial Rights Legal Centre. Read Legal Assistance for details.
The National Debt Helpline assists by providing:
- Detailed advice and strategies for dealing with financial difficulties
- Detailed advice and strategies for negotiating with creditors
- Legal advice (through Financial Rights only)
- Information about court processes in relation to debt collection
- Referrals to face-to-face financial counselling and information on how to prepare for a financial counselling appointment
- Information and referrals to other services
- Reassurance and perspective about financial matters
- Representation and casework in limited circumstances