Department of Health

Privacy at the Department of Health

The department endorses fair information handling practices and uses of information in compliance with its obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic).

The Department of Health is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information which we and our funded service partners handle. Personal information is information that directly or indirectly identifies a person. Health information is personal information about the physical, mental or psychological health or a disability of an individual, or the health services provided to them.

We collect and handle a range of personal information for the purposes of providing services or to carry out our statutory functions. In accordance with our responsibilities, the services and functions provided by the department and our service partners include primary and community health, public hospitals, mental health, disability, public health, ambulance, health promotion and protection, alcohol and drug treatment services and aged care. We also collect some personal information for planning, funding, monitoring and evaluating our services and functions, but where practicable we remove identifying details from information used for these purposes.

We are committed to protecting the privacy of your information and we are bound by Victorian laws, as well as other laws that impose specific obligations in regard to handling information. In Victoria, the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) are the primary legislation that regulates the information handling of personal and health information. The department will manage your information in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles and Health Privacy Principles that provide standards for information collection, storage, access, transmission, disclosure, use and disposal as prescribed within these Acts. 

We acknowledge that due to the nature of the services performed by the department and our health service providers, some of the information we manage is particularly delicate and/or sensitive.

Privacy policy

For information on how the department collects, uses and stores personal or health information, you should refer to the our privacy policy. Visit our Privacy policy page or download a copy below:

Privacy incidents

If you have a general complaint or wish to provide feedback, about any service provided by the department or one of its health services, please see Feedback and complaints.

If you wish to report a privacy specific incident or if you believe that the department or one of its funded health service providers has breached your privacy through the collection, use or storage of your personal or health information, please contact the Privacy team.

If you are a member of a health service provider or entity that receives funding from the Department of Health and need to report an incident to the department, please do so through your contract manager through Feedback Management System Introductionpage or by emailing the Privacy team.

We will use the information you provide us with to investigate and resolve your reported privacy incident, in accordance with our Privacy Policy. The investigation of the reported privacy incident may involve sharing your personal or health information with other relevant areas within the department to achieve a resolution. If a third party was involved, we may also need to discuss your complaint with them.

We may seek further information from you in relation to the privacy incident you report. If you do not provide us with information about the matter, this may limit our ability to assist you.

Access and correction

You can request access to, or correction of personal and health information held by the department.

For information on making an FOI application, please visit our Freedom of Information page or contact the Freedom of Information Officer:

  • Freedom of Information Unit, Department of Health
  • Postal address: GPO BOX 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001
  • Email: foi@health.vic.gov.au.

Contact

The Privacy and Legal Compliance team provide the department with advice and tools to support compliance with privacy legislation and promote best practice.

If you wish to know more about how the department manages your information, you can contact the Privacy and Legal Compliance team using the below details:

Email privacy@health.vic.gov.au

Coronavirus

The promotion of public health of Victorians falls within the functions of the Department of Health, as such the department is at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Further information about our coronavirus (COVID-19) response including privacy information can be found on the Coronavirus website.

  • The Department of Health ('the department') is collecting your personal and health information to communicate the request from the health service taking your COVID-19 swab (which may be the department or another health provider) to a pathology service for testing, and to obtain information to assist the department in managing the COVID-19 virus pandemic. After your test, we will use your mobile number to send you an SMS, providing you with links to further information about COVID-19 on our website.

    Some of the questions you will be asked by staff at the testing site are necessary to enable a valid request to be made for COVID-19 pathology testing. Other questions are not mandatory but will assist in our understanding of COVID-19 and who is undergoing testing. We will let you know which questions are optional.

    We will disclose certain information collected about you to a pathology provider for COVID-19 testing. That pathology provider will report test results to the department, and to the health service who took your swab for testing. You will be notified of your result by the pathology provider, the health service or the department using the contact information we collect from you. We may also provide the health service that took your swab with a copy of the information you provided at the time of your test and your COVID-19 test result, so that they have this information in their health care records.

    Our public health unit and other researchers are undertaking important analysis of available COVID-19 data to improve our understanding of the virus and assist in our response. Information that we collect may be used for these purposes by the department or disclosed to other researchers where that is authorised by law.

    If your test is positive for COVID-19, the department may share your information with Health Service Providers and our Contracted Service Providers under the COVID Positive Pathways program for your support and care, including medical care, emergency accommodation, food relief, and alcohol, drug, mental health and family violence support services. We may also share your personal and health information with other government entities for occupational health and safety purposes of staff to enable the provision of services to you in a safe and efficient manner.

    The department may share your information with Victoria Police or interstate health departments to ensure that the Pandemic Orders are being complied with and to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 between states and territories.

    Your test result may be loaded to My Health Record unless you tell us that you do not want this to happen.

    You can apply for access to information the department holds about you. The department’s Freedom of Information Unit may be contacted on foi@health.vic.gov.au.

    For information on the department's Privacy policy or on how the department manages privacy, please contact the Privacy unit on privacy@health.vic.gov.au.

  • The department is managing the vaccination rollout to immunise Victorians against the COVID virus. You can access the department’s booking portal.

    Privacy collection notice

    The Department of Health (the department) is collecting your personal and health information to complete your registration in the Victorian COVID-19 Vaccination Management Solution (CVMS), create a record of your vaccination(s) and obtain your feedback after your vaccination.

    If you choose to register with CVMS, the department will use your information to book your COVID-19 vaccination, provide you with a reminder about your bookings, provide you with a reminder about when your next dose of COVID-19 vaccination is due, and send you a survey in which you can record your post COVID-19 vaccination outcomes.

    If you do not provide complete information in the registration process or in response to the survey, we may not be able to assess your suitability for the vaccine and/or identify any adverse reactions. This may pose a risk to your health.

    The department will provide access to CVMS to registered vaccination providers (i.e. health care workers who are providing COVID-19 vaccinations) so that they can record details of your vaccination in your CVMS record and provide you with healthcare and vaccination services. The department will also permit call centre staff to access your personal information in CVMS to respond to requests for assistance from vaccination providers or you.

    The department will use the CVMS database, including your information, to retrieve your vaccination history from the Australian Immunisation Register, to facilitate your COVID-19 vaccination, manage the COVID-19 vaccination process in Victoria including analysis of data collected, monitor use of the CVMS database, perform required system maintenance and any other uses or disclosures authorised or required by law.  Your health service provider may also use your information to manage your health. 

    The department will disclose your personal and health information that is specific to your COVID-19 vaccination to:

    the Australian Immunisation Register held by the Commonwealth Department of Health (which may be viewed on your My Health Record, subject to your settings);

    SAEFVIC (identifiable information) and AusVaxSafety (de-identified information only) in the event that you have an adverse reaction, so that the safety of vaccines can be monitored; and your employer where this disclosure is necessary to lessen or prevent the serious risk to public health posed by COVID-19 in the workplace (e.g. hospitals, health service providers, aged care facilities, other high risk industries).

    You can apply for access to information the department holds about you. The department’s Freedom of Information Unit may be contacted on email: foi@health.vic.gov.au

    If you have feedback or a complaint about COVID testing, then please submit your complaint or feedback online using the Make a complaint eform or by mail: Health Feedback, GPO Box 4057, Melbourne Victoria 3000.

Victorian Population Health Survey

  • Your privacy is important to us, and we take it seriously. In order to carry out this survey effectively, the Department of Health collects personal and health information about you. 

    • There are a number of laws1 that apply to the collection and use of personal information as part of the survey with which the Department of Health must comply. For more information on the department’s privacy obligations, please refer to the department’s privacy policy.
    • The Department of Health’s Human Research Ethics Committee is responsible for approving the survey (including any changes) and needs to be satisfied that the survey is conducted in a way that protects your privacy, as required by these laws.
      The Department of Health's Human Research Ethics Committee first approved the conduct of the Victorian Population Health Survey in 1999 and the survey has received further approval by the committee periodically when changes have been made. The most recent approval was in 2022.
    • The Human Research Ethics Committee also deals with any concerns that a member of the public may have before or after participating in the survey.
      Please direct any complaints about the ethical practices of the survey to the Executive Officer of Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Human Research Ethics Committee, via email at research.ethics@health.vic.gov.au.
    • Your participation in the survey is voluntary. There are no consequences associated with not taking part in the survey. You do not have to give a reason for not participating in the survey.
    • If you decide to take part in the survey, you can choose not to answer a particular question if you do not wish to do so. You do not have to give a reason for not answering a question.
    • The committee pays particular attention to how your personal information (name and telephone number and your address if relevant) and survey responses are stored during the survey period and how the information collected is stored and used after all the interviews are completed.
    • While the survey is being conducted by TKW Research (on behalf of the Department of Health), your survey responses and personal information are stored in password-protected files.
    • At the end of the survey period, TKW Research is required to delete your name and telephone number (and where relevant your address) and only information you have provided in answering the survey questions is kept. This information is added to the information provided by other participants and forwarded to the Department of Health for analysis.

    Reference

    1. These laws include but are not limited to: the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (Commonwealth), the Health Records Act 2001 (Victoria), the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Victoria), the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and the Statutory Guidelines on Research under the Health Records Act 2001 (Victoria).
  • The information collected from those who participate in the survey is used to answer questions about population health that are of public interest or for research purposes only.

    For example, the data are used to help the Department of Health monitor the health status of the Victorian population over time and to help ensure that public health programs are relevant and responsive to current and emerging health issues.

    This involves asking very broad questions such as ‘What proportion of the Victorian population aged 18-24 years are current smokers?’ and ‘How many people in a particular region of Victoria reported that they are ex-smokers?’

    The main findings from the survey, including reports and factsheets from previous years, are available at the Victorian Population Health Survey page.

    All the results are reported at a summary level only (for example, by age group, by sex, etc.). No individuals are identified, and no individual’s responses are reported.

    The Department of Health is the data custodian for the data from the Victorian Population Health Survey. It is the duty of the custodian to ensure that the data are used responsibly and respectfully, and that privacy is safeguarded.

    Other government departments, statutory agencies and researchers may request access to the data as an extension of this survey or in the same general area of research.

    Such access to the data is not automatic. It is granted on a case-by-case basis: only where a survey has received approval from the Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee, only for the items needed to answer a particular policy, planning or research question, and usually requires a formal licence deed with the department.

    See Privacy at the Department of Health for more information.

    Contact information

    Victorian Population Health Survey
    Department of Health
    GPO Box 4057, Melbourne VIC 3001
    Phone: Victorian Population Health Survey Hotline – 1800 658 830

Information sharing laws to improve healthcare quality and safety

From 27 August 2020, new laws to help keep patients safe in health care commenced in Victoria under the Health Legislation Amendment and Repeal Act 2019 (Vic), which amended the existing Health Services Act 1988 (Vic). The laws make it easier for some health services and parts of the government, including the Department of Health, to share confidential information and work together to make Victorian health care safer and better for patients.

Frequently asked questions about the new laws for patients and for health services are available:

Website privacy statement

See the Website privacy statement for information about how any personal information about you will be treated as you access and interact with this website.

Relevant legislation

The Victorian Legislation website provides free access to all relevant Acts and Regulations.

Search for the following:

  • Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic)
  • Ombudsman Act 1973 (Vic)
  • Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic)
  • Health Records Act 2001 (Vic)
  • Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic)
  • Financial Management Act 1994 (Vic)
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
  • Disability Act 2006 (Vic)

Reviewed 27 October 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

For further information on how the department manages privacy please use these contact details. Postal address: GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, Victoria 3001.

Privacy and Legal Compliance team

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