Health public interest directions

About Health Public Interest Directions

Under section 62 of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIP Act), the Privacy Commissioner may make a Health Public Interest Direction to waive or modify the requirement for a public sector agency to comply with a Health Privacy Principle (HPP).

The general intent is for the Directions to apply temporarily. A number of Directions have been renewed periodically each time they have expired. In 2011, the Privacy Commissioner commenced action to ensure that Directions are used for transitional or short-term purposes.

Organisations may approach the Privacy Commissioner to request a Health Public Interest Direction, or the Privacy Commissioner may recognise a need for a Health Public Interest Direction without a request.

The Privacy Commissioner must weigh the public interest in considering whether to make a Health Public Interest Direction. This process may involve some consultation with affected parties, and the Privacy Commissioner may need to ask the agency or organisation concerned for more detailed information about their request and their reasons for seeking a public interest direction.

If the Privacy Commissioner is satisfied that the public interest in allowing a waive or modification outweighs the public interest in the application of the HPPs to the conduct at issue, the Privacy Commissioner will then draft a draft Direction. The draft Direction may then be the subject of a further round of consultation.

The Privacy Commissioner must consult the Attorney General about the draft Direction and seek the Ministers approval to make the Direction. Once the Privacy Commissioner has made a Direction, it is uploaded to this website.

What Health Public Interest Directions do, and what they don't do.

A Health Public Interest Direction modifies the application of the HPPs to particular projects or activities of one or more public sector agencies or private sector persons and organisations.

A Direction does not permit conduct that would otherwise be unlawful. In other words, it does not override any other laws, contracts or agreements which may already affect an organisation.

For example, a Health Public Interest Direction which modifies HPP 11 (the disclosure principle) doesn't necessarily provide a new lawful excuse for a disclosure to occur. All it can do is say that the disclosure, if it goes ahead, will not breach the HPPs in the HRIP Act. The disclosure must itself be lawful under other laws or agreements. Therefore, even with a Health Public Interest Direction, some disclosures may still be prohibited for other reasons.

What Health Public Interest Directions have been made?

Directions made to date, and still current, apply to:

Direction relating to Youth on Track – This Direction is made under s62 of the HRIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track scheme in order to provide case management services to young people. It was renewed on 23 December 2016 and will expire on 30 June 2017. There is a related public interest direction made under s41 of the PPIP Act. More information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction on the pilot program for the national Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework- This direction has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of personal information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in the NSW Pilot Program of the Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework (CVEIF) for the purposes of the NSW Pilot Program. The direction was made on 17 June 2016 and will expire 12 months after. There is a related public interest direction made under section 62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction for the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Pilot – This Direction is made under s62 of the HRIP Act and has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of personal information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in and for the purpose of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Pilot. This direction was made on 13 April 2016 and will expire on 12 April 2018. There is a related public interest direction made under s41 of the PPIP Act. More information about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme can be found at Women NSW and NSW Department of Justice.

Direction for the exchange of health information to assist in the transition of funded individuals to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – This Direction will enable FACS to collect an agreed data set of information about funded individuals from other public sector agencies and allied agencies, to validate and consolidate that information and use it to refer individuals to the NDIA without breaching Health Privacy Principles 1, 3, 4, 10 and 11 relating to collection, use and disclosure of health information.

Previous Directions:

Direction relating to Youth on Track – This Direction is made under s62 of the HRIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track scheme in order to provide case management services to young people. It was made on 4 January 2016 and was due to expire 31 December 2016 (this Direction has been renewed on 23 December 2016 until 30 June 2017 - see above). There is a related public interest direction made under s41 of the PPIP Act. More information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction on the pilot program for the national Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework - This direction has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of health information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in the NSW Pilot Program of the Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework (CVEIF) for the purposes of the NSW Pilot Program. The direction was made on 16 November 2015 and will expire 6 months after. There is a related public interest direction made under section 41 of the PPIP Act

Direction relating to Youth on Track – This Direction is made under s62 of the HRIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track program in order to provide case management services to young people. It was made on 9 March 2015 and will expire on 31 December 2015. There is a related public interest direction made under s41 of the PPIP ActMore information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction relating to the Redfern Waterloo Case Coordination Project – This Direction is made under the HRIP Act and applies to agencies participating in the Redfern Waterloo Case Coordination Project. The Privacy Commissioner has renewed this Direction, which commenced on 10 January 2014 and expired on 30 June 2015. A related Direction was made under s41 of the PPIP Act.

Direction relating to Youth on Track – This Direction is made under s.62 of the HRIP Act and applies to the NGOs contracted to provide the case management services as a "person engaged" by the Department of Justice. It was made on 10 March 2014 and expired on 31 December 2014. A related Direction has been made under s.41 of the PPIP Act. More information about Youth on Track

Direction relating to the Anti-Social Behaviour Pilot Project – This Direction applied to the agencies listed in Schedule 1 and the local Area Commands listed in Schedule 2. It is now addressed by legislation.

Direction relating to the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project – This Direction applied to agencies participating in the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project. It was made on 2 February 2006 and had effect for 12 months from this date or until the completion of the project whichever occurs later. A related Direction has been made under s62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to CARAM-DFV Framework – This Direction allows public sector agencies and Non-Government Organisations operating within Cross Agency Risk Assessment and Management – Domestic and Family Violence Framework, to assess victims of domestic and family violence as to the extent to which those victims are at risk of experiencing future violence. A related Direction has been made under s62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to the Child Protection Watch Team Trial – This Direction applied to agencies participating in the Child Protection Watch Team Trial. It was made on 7 August 2006 and had effect until the completion of the CPWT Trial. Despite the wording of the s41 Direction, a s62 Direction under the HRIP Act has not yet been made. It may be made in the future.

Direction on the Incidental Disclosure and the Transfer of Personal Information belonging to Third Parties to the (SA) Commission of Inquiry into Children in State Care – This Direction applied to the Department of Community Services and the South Australian Commission of Inquiry into Children in State Care. It operated from 15 November 2006 to 31 December 2006. A related Direction has been made under s.62 of the HRIP Act.

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