Page 739 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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CHS management and the Minister for Mental Health may have been a party to a privacy breach. Reports claim, and I quote:

… CHS executives and even Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson would be in the same boat.

Minister, have you or your office ever received confidential, private information from any source, and, if so, what did you do with that information?

MS DAVIDSON: I thank Mr Cocks for the question. It is very important for people in the community to know that if they have concerns about the delivery of services in the ACT, they can follow that up both with the service and with their elected representatives in the Assembly. That includes me as the Minister for Mental Health. I regularly have contact from people who will write in to me or phone me to let me know what their experience has been or what the difficulties they are experiencing are. We then have to make sure we are very mindful of the privacy and confidentiality of that information they have shared with us.

It is also really important that, when we are having conversations with people about how they can address their concerns with CHS, we are able to pass that information on to CHS as well. There are processes that are followed to make sure that is done in the right way.

It is very important that all of us meet our obligations under the Privacy Act, that all of us are respectful of patients’ privacy and confidentiality and that, when we are doing our jobs, we are doing them with the impact on people in mind who are often very vulnerable in our community. That might also include their families or carers, and it might also include talking to service providers who might raise issues with us as well.

There are a number of sources from which we might receive information, but there are very clear processes for how to make sure we handle that carefully. It is very important that all of us in this place are doing that.

MR COCKS: Minister, have you or your office ever received confidential information from an inappropriate source or a source that is not the patient, their family or the health service in accordance with strict controls?

MS DAVIDSON: I am not sure exactly what Mr Cocks means by an inappropriate source. If someone has concerns about the health and safety of a person in the community, it is appropriate for them to contact the relevant services that can help. Those services will respect the privacy and confidentiality of the person in question when they are making sure that people are able to access health or emergency services as are needed.

It is appropriate for people to be able to contact either a service, like a health service or an emergency service, or an elected representative, to let them know they have concerns about whether someone is able to receive the services they need. It is equally important that we then handle that information in the proper manner and respect patient privacy and do not release information about the patient to people who are not entitled to have that information.

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