Information sharing and complaint referral arrangements
Information sharing arrangement (Part 6, Ombudsman Act 1974)
Part 6 of the Ombudsman Act permits two or more relevant agencies to enter into arrangements for the sharing of information held by them. Any such sharing has to be made in accordance with an Information Sharing Arrangement entered into between the parties.
In this Arrangement the following definitions apply:
complaint means a complaint (however described) that is made to a relevant agency.
disclosing agency means the relevant agency which holds the information and is referring or intending to disclose part or all of the information to another relevant agency.
receiving agency means the relevant agency with which information has or may be shared.
relevant agency means an agency specified in Schedule 1A of the Ombudsman Act that is a signatory to this Arrangement.
sensitive personal information in relation to a complainant means information relating to the complainant's ethnic or racial origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health or sexual activities.
3. Sharing of information
3.1 Circumstances in which information can be disclosed
A relevant agency is authorised to disclose information to another relevant agency in the following circumstances:
where a relevant agency is referring a complaint to another relevant agency pursuant to a Complaint Referral Arrangement entered into pursuant to s.42(1) of the Ombudsman Act; or
Where a disclosing agency has (or should have) reason to suspect that certain information is or includes sensitive personal information about a complainant, the agency must not disclose the information without the complainant's express consent (which can either be oral or in writing) (s.43(6)).
3.2 Circumstances in which information can be received
3.3 Procedures to be followed
Where a relevant agency requests information from another relevant agency pursuant to clause 3.1, it shall provide sufficient particulars of the matter to enable that agency to identify relevant information.
3.4 Confidentiality of information provided
4. Attendance at investigations or hearings
4.1 Circumstances in which attendance can be offered
One relevant agency may authorise another relevant agency to be present during an investigation or hearing conducted by the agency:
where both agencies are conducting concurrent investigations into or otherwise reviewing related matters, being either related aspects of the same complaint or of different complaints;
where both agencies are investigating part or all of a complaint referred by one agency to the other pursuant to a Complaint Referral Arrangement entered into pursuant to s.42(1) of the Ombudsman Act; or
where an agency forms the view that the presence of the other agency is reasonably necessary to assist that other agency to effectively carry out its functions
and in each case the authorising agency believes such presence will not prejudice its investigation or hearing.
Where a relevant agency has (or should have) reason to suspect certain information likely to be disclosed during an investigation or hearing will be or include sensitive personal information, the agency must not permit another agency to be present during the investigation or hearing without the complainant's express consent (which can either be oral or in writing) (s.43(6)).
4.2 Preconditions to acceptance of an offer of attendance
the investigation or hearing is in respect to a complaint; and
the presence of the agency is reasonably necessary to assist the agency to carry out its functions (s.43(2)).
4.3 Procedures to be followed
Any acceptance by a relevant agency of an offer to be present during an investigation or hearing is to be in writing, nominating the delegate(s) of the agency who will attend the investigation or hearing.
Details about the times, dates and relevant locations of investigations or hearings may be provided orally or in writing by the authorising agency.
Any relevant agency, or delegate(s) of a relevant agency, authorised to be present during an investigation or hearing may not intervene in the investigation or hearing (eg, by asking questions or exercising a power of entry) without the prior agreement of the authorising agency or its delegated officer.
5. Public availability of Arrangement
Copies of this Arrangement are to be:
available for public inspection at the office of each relevant agency during their ordinary office hours (s.45); and
accessible on the website of each relevant agency.
The above Arrangements have been signed by the following:
Amanda Adrian, Commissioner
Health Care Complaints Commission
Legal Services Commissioner
Laurie Glanfield, A/President
Maureen Tangney, A/Privacy Commissioner
Original copies of the arrangements are available for public inspection at the Information and Privacy Commission NSW during business hours.