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Privacy statement

PART A – About this privacy statement

Who is Healthdirect Australia and what does it do?

Healthdirect Australia Ltd (ABN 28 118 291 044) and its contractors provide a range of Australia-wide health services to members of the public and a range of jurisdiction specific health advice and information services, alert services and health administration services.

Members of the public can use Healthdirect Australia’s services which can be accessed via www.healthdirect.gov.au.

The services available through Healthdirect Australia are wholly or jointly funded by the Australian Government and a number of the state and territory governments.

This Privacy Statement applies to the provision of our services via websites and through the telehealth services. Healthdirect Australia maintains separate Privacy Statements for the National Health Services Directory, My Aged Care and Carer Gateway services (available on their respective websites).

What are Healthdirect Australia’s privacy obligations?

Healthdirect Australia’s privacy obligations concern the collection, use, disclosure and storage of personal information.

In dealing with personal information, Healthdirect Australia is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and any applicable State or Territory privacy laws.

PART B – Our personal information handling practices

What personal information does Healthdirect Australia collect and hold?

We may collect your name, address, date of birth, information about your illnesses, symptoms, disabilities and information required to provide you with a health service.

The types of information Healthdirect Australia collects and holds includes (but is not limited to) personal information and health information about users of its services, and personal information about its employees and contractors.

You can always choose to deal with Healthdirect Australia anonymously (or by providing a pseudonym) in which case your details will not be subject to privacy laws. If you wish to remain anonymous when dealing with a Contact Centre via a telephone or video call, please advise the call operator assisting you. Providing your personal details enables us to provide you with a contact record reference number which allows you, and other authorised persons, to retrieve information about that call at a later date.

If you identify yourself, Healthdirect Australia will usually collect your name, age, gender, contact details, some medical history, your symptoms, and, if relevant to your health, your ethnic background and sexual practice.

We may also record information about health services to be provided to you in the future or your wishes about the future provision of health services.

We usually collect information directly from you when you use our services or when you send us an email, fax, letter or complete an online or paper form. We sometimes collect personal information from a third party, for example from a healthcare service such as a residential care facility who is managing your care or from your family members that contact Healthdirect Australia on your behalf. If someone calls on behalf of another person, we collect the caller’s name and contact details.

All interactive consultations with Healthdirect Australia in relation to its health services are recorded in a database. Healthdirect Australia may collect your personal information if you provide personal information when contacting Healthdirect Australia. For example, if your email address contains personal information, Healthdirect Australia will record your email address when you contact us by email.

We have processes in place to ensure that our records of your information remain accurate, complete and up to date, including by verifying the information with you each time you use our services or from other sources.

The records are retained for up to 25 years as is usual with health information.

If the information is no longer required by us for any purpose for which it was collected and is no longer required by law to be retained by us, we will destroy or de-identify the information.

What uses and disclosures of personal information may occur?

Healthdirect Australia uses and discloses personal information for the following purposes:

  • Providing healthcare services to you;
  • Assisting Commonwealth, State or Territory health services or departments of health to provide you with health services or to address issues you may raise with them;
  • Matching service delivery data with health information for service improvement;
  • Compilation and analysis of statistics relevant to public health and safety; and
  • Complying with its legal obligations.

Healthdirect Australia uses audio recordings of all consultations (via telephone or video call) to help ensure that the advice it gives meets the highest standards of safety and quality and is equal to best international practice.

Healthdirect Australia will share relevant information with health services and/or Government bodies in the event of a national or jurisdictional health disaster in order that an appropriate health response can be provided.

Healthdirect Australia may use your personal information to make a follow up call to you for feedback on your satisfaction with the services you have received.

Healthdirect Australia will generally not disclose your personal information to anyone except as described in this Privacy Statement, where you consent to a particular disclosure, or where the identifying data can be removed. Healthdirect Australia may consult regarding your case with another health service provider with your consent and possibly while you are still on the line.

Where a patient permits or has authorised another person to conduct their affairs (such as a spouse or guardian), is unconscious, incapacitated or a minor, Healthdirect Australia deals on their behalf with the person responsible for their welfare.

There may be other disclosures where:

  • you would reasonably expect the disclosure to occur (for example, quality assurance purposes, training and the purpose of enhancing Healthdirect Australia services);
  • Healthdirect Australia is authorised or compelled by law to disclose;
  • it will prevent or lessen a serious threat to someone’s life, health or safety or a threat to public health or safety;
  • it is required for public health surveillance where symptoms are mapped geographically to see if patterns arise as an early warning system identifying epidemics;
  • it is necessary as part of the establishment or defence of a legal claim;
  • it is requested by an enforcement agency such as the police;
  • it is a necessary part of an investigation following a complaint or incident; or
  • there is a change of service provider to Healthdirect Australia Limited, in which case personal information may be transferred to a new similar service provider.

When we disclose your personal information to third parties, we make all reasonable efforts to ensure we disclose only relevant information and that it is accurate, complete and up to date.

Healthdirect Australia will not sell or rent your personal information to anyone and will not transfer your information overseas unless you ask Healthdirect Australia to do so.

When Healthdirect Australia uses contractors to perform services, such as disposal of confidential documents, they are required under contract to work according to Healthdirect Australia’s obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and to treat personal information they may see with care and confidentiality.

How does Healthdirect Australia protect your personal information?

Healthdirect Australia has systems and procedures in place to protect your personal information from misuse and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

PART C – Our online services

This part of our Privacy Statement explains the type of information that is collected by Healthdirect Australia in managing and operating our websites, applications and interactive facilities or services accessed through our websites and applications (Online Services).

This part also explains how such information is used and under what circumstances and to whom it may be disclosed.

What are Healthdirect Australia’s Online Services?

Healthdirect Australia’s Online Services are available at www.healthdirect.gov.au.

Healthdirect Australia’s Online Services have been tested to an advanced level of site security. However, users are advised that there are inherent risks in transmitting information across the internet, including the risk that information sent to or from a website may be intercepted, corrupted or modified by third parties. If you have any security concerns, or if you wish to provide personal information by other means (e.g. by telephone or paper), you may contact Healthdirect Australia using the contact details set out at the bottom of this email.

Can I remain anonymous in using Healthdirect Australia’s Online Services?

Yes, the Online Services can be used without the need to disclose personal information. The minimum information required to create a personal profile, and subsequently identify yourself to the Online Services, is an email address and a password (a user who wishes to remain anonymous can easily establish an anonymous email address using free web-based email services, such as gmail.com).

However, if you choose to remain anonymous, this may affect your ability to take full advantage of the services offered by the Online Services such as via a video call.

It is important to realise that all Healthdirect Australia Online Services information is accessible without the need to create a personal profile. Creating a personal profile with Healthdirect Australia enables us to remember your selected favourite pages and to provide you with information specifically selected for you. You can also subscribe to receive information or notifications relevant to your circumstances based on the information you provide.

Healthdirect Australia stores your email address, password (and any other information you provide via your profile) so we can recognise you when you next use our Online Services or you move between our Online Services (for example, across our websites).

What personal information does Healthdirect Australia collect from Online Services users?

Healthdirect Australia does not collect your personal information when you only browse our Online Services.

Healthdirect Australia may collect your personal information if you transmit personal information to us through our Online Services or by email.

When you use our interactive Online Services (e.g. a video call or service finder), we may use your IP address to verify you accessing the service from within Australia as well as other personal information for the purposes of identification and support. For video calls, we ask for your phone number at your location so that we can help direct emergency services to you, if needed.

Healthdirect Australia will only record your email address in the event that you send us an email, you register to receive information from us or our notification services or you create a personal profile.

If you create a personal profile for our Online Services we may also collect additional information relevant to your circumstances and the services you are using, such as your name, contact details, your child’s name and birthdate or information relating to your pregnancy such as your estimated due date or ovulation cycle. We will store this information which you can access via your personal profile using a password you create.

You can unsubscribe from our information and notification services at any time by following the prompts on our Online Services, selecting the unsubscribe function in your personal profile or selecting unsubscribe in an email we have sent to you. You can also delete your personal profile at any time.

What uses and disclosures occur of personal information collected from our Online Services?

Healthdirect Australia will only use personal information collected via its Online Services in accordance with the purposes stated in the Privacy Statement.

Your email address and contact details will only be used for the purpose for which you have provided it and will not be added to any mailing or contact lists without your prior consent. Please note that we may also use your email address to notify you of changes to our Terms of Use or this privacy statement.

We will not use or disclose your email address for any other purpose without your consent, unless it is otherwise in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

We do not disclose your personal information to other organisations unless one of the limited circumstances set out in Part B of this Privacy Statement applies (see Part B, ‘What uses and disclosures of personal information may apply’).

Does Healthdirect Australia use cookies?

A “cookie” is a small text file supplied by Healthdirect Australia and stored by the web browser software on your computer when you access the Online Services. (An explanation of cookies can be found at the website of the Australian Information Commissioner at www.oaic.gov.au.)

Healthdirect Australia uses cookies to recognise your browser or device and collect and store general information about your browsing habits and preferences. Healthdirect Australia may use this information to improve your user experience on Online Services, tailor placement of online content and/or improve the overall quality of our services.

If you wish to use the features of Healthdirect Australia that enable us to personalise the site for you, you must use a browser which is enabled to accept cookies.

When you visit our Online Services we may collect certain information such as browser type, operating system and the website visited immediately before coming to our site.

Healthdirect Australia analyses this non-identifiable website traffic data (including through the use of third party service providers) on an aggregated basis to improve our services and for statistical purposes.

In order to access certain Online Services, you may be required to connect to an external web application that is not run or managed by Healthdirect Australia. Healthdirect Australia recommends that you read the privacy statement made available on that web application to understand how it uses cookies (for example, a cookie may be set in a user’s browser which applies across sessions to identify the installed video technology option).

The Healthdirect Australia Online Services make records of your visits and logs the following information for statistical purposes:

  • the user’s server address;
  • the user’s top level domain name;
  • the date and time of access to the site;
  • pages accessed and documents downloaded;
  • the previous site visited; and
  • the type of browser software in use.

No attempt will be made to identify anonymous users (including users logging on using a pseudonym) or their browsing activities except, in the unlikely event of an investigation, where a law enforcement agency may exercise a warrant to inspect the Internet Service Provider’s log files.

The Online Services use Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google Inc. (Google). Google Analytics uses cookies to help analyse how users use the Online Services. Google Analytics anonymously tracks how users interact with the Online Services, including where they came from, what they did on the Online Services and whether they completed any transactions on the Online Services.

The information generated by the cookie about your use of the Online Services (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of compiling reports on the website activity and providing other services relating to the websites and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of the Online Services. By using the Online Services, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Our Online Services have links to other websites not controlled or owned by us. We are not responsible for these sites or any consequence of your use of those sites. Healthdirect Australia recommends that you review the privacy statements of those external websites so that you can understand their privacy practices. Healthdirect Australia is not responsible for the privacy statements or practices of external websites.

PART D – Queries, concerns and further information

How does Healthdirect Australia ensure that the personal information it holds is accurate and how can I access the information held about me?

Healthdirect Australia has measures to ensure that the information it holds about you is accurate, complete and up to date before acting on it. If you learn that personal information Healthdirect Australia holds about you is inaccurate, incomplete or not up to date you should contact Healthdirect Australia so that your information can be promptly updated.

If you wish to see what information Healthdirect Australia has about you, you can ask for a copy of it. Sometimes it may not be possible to give you a copy of the information if it was provided anonymously, if it contains details about other people, or if it would be unsafe to provide the information in that it may lead to harm being done to another person.

If we refuse to provide you with access to your record or to update your record in the way you request, we will provide you with written reasons.

If we refuse to correct or update your information, you may request that we make a note on your record that you are of the opinion that the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date, irrelevant or misleading, as the case may be.

Healthdirect Australia will not charge you for lodging a request for a copy of your personal information but you will be asked to pay a reasonable fee for the work involved in providing you with this information and for associated costs such as photocopying. You will be notified of any likely costs before your request is processed.

What if I have a complaint?

If you have a privacy complaint or concern, especially if you think your privacy has been affected or you wish to complain about our refusal to update or grant access to our records of your personal information, you should contact Healthdirect Australia as detailed below for an examination of your complaint. If after that you are still unhappy you can complain about a privacy matter to the Australian Information Commissioner. See www.oaic.gov.au for how to make a complaint.

Does Healthdirect Australia change its policies on privacy from time to time?

Healthdirect Australia may update this Privacy Statement from time to time. To see the most current Privacy Statement, please look at our website www.healthdirect.gov.au or contact Healthdirect Australia.

How can you contact us?

Email: privacy@healthdirect.org.au
Phone: (02) 9263 9000
Facsimile: (02) 9283 9180

Postal address:
Privacy Officer
Healthdirect Australia
PO Box A835
Sydney South NSW 1235

Last reviewed: July 2016

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