5.3 What can the Scheme do with protected information?

Introduction

The Operator can disclose protected information held by the Scheme about a person or institution to another officer or government institution if there is a genuine reason for doing so.

Disclosures to nominees

The Operator can disclose protected information they receive from a person to that person's assistance or legal nominee. The nominee needs this information so they can be properly informed and act in the best interest of the person they are assisting at all times.

Act reference: NRSAct section 94 Additional authorisation-Operator disclosing to nominee

Disclosures in the public interest or for a specified purpose

The Operator may disclose information that was provided to them for the purposes of the Scheme if the disclosure of the information is necessary and in the public's interest. This is only where:

  • the information cannot reasonably be obtained from a source other than the Department of Social Services or the Department of Human Services, and
  • the person to whom the information will be disclosed has a genuine and legitimate interest in the information (including the Minister for Social Services, the Minister administering the Human Services (Centrelink) Act 1997, and the Prime Minister).

Under these circumstances the information can be provided to, amongst others:

  • a person or institution which has been explicitly or implicitly authorised to receive the information, and the authority comes from the person or institution that the information is about
  • the Chief Executive of both Centrelink and Medicare where it relates to a Centrelink or Medicare program
  • the head of a government institution for the purpose of something that is within scope of responsibility of that institution, or
  • a relevant Commonwealth, state or territory government minister where they have a genuine and legitimate reason.

Once the Operator discloses information to the authorised person, the authorised person can then obtain, record, disclose and use this information, but only for the purposes that the Scheme allowed the disclosure.

Once the Operator issues a public interest certificate, the authorised person can then obtain, record, disclose and use this information, but only for the purposes that the Scheme allowed the disclosure.

Disclosures for law enforcement or child safety or wellbeing

Where the Operator is satisfied it is reasonably necessary to disclose protected information it can do so for the enforcement of criminal law, or for the safety or wellbeing of children. If the protected information is specifically about a person who has applied for redress, the Operator must consider any impacts that the disclosure might have on the person.

The Operator can disclose information for law enforcement or child safety purposes to a government institution that has a function addressing these purposes. Government officials working within the government institution are then permitted to obtain, record, use and disclose the protected information only if it is their job to do so for the purpose the Operator disclosed the information.

The Operator can impose in writing conditions on how government officials can handle protected information received for the purposes of law enforcement or child safety. Any person who receives protected information with conditions but engages in conduct (within the meaning of the Criminal Code Act 1995) that breaches those conditions may be subject to a penalty of 2 years imprisonment, 120 penalty units, or both. Any instrument containing conditions specified by the Scheme in writing is not a legislative instrument.

Act reference: NRSAct section 96 Additional authorisation-Operator disclosing for law enforcement or child safety or wellbeing

NRS Rules Part 11 Disclosure of protected information

Last reviewed: 13 August 2018