Student information and privacy
Information that can reasonably identify a student is defined and protected as personal information under the Privacy and Data Protection Act (2014).
If personal information about students is health information, then the Health Privacy Principles (HPPs) of the Victorian Health Records Act apply.
La Trobe must comply with the IPPs and HPPs on the management of personal and health information. This reinforces the University's long standing commitment to hold confidential all personal information about students and to disclose it only with the consent and knowledge of the student, or when legally permitted or required to do so.
When seeking consent from a student to use and disclose his or her personal and/or health information, it is important for the student to be provided with full knowledge of all relevant facts regarding the use and disclosure of their personal details. He or she must have an understanding of the consequences of their consent.
Informed consent should address:
- Choice — consent must be given voluntarily and without coercion.
- Specifics — consent given must be specific to the situation.
What students need to know
It is important to take reasonable steps to make students aware of the following matters when collecting their personal information:
- The identity of the department/unit collecting personal information, and how to contact it
- The fact they may access their own personal information, subject to any exceptions in relevant laws
- The purpose for which the information is or was collected
- The names (or types) of organisations or individuals to whom the information is usually disclosed
- Any law requiring the collection
- The main consequences (if any) if all or part of the information is not provided
Providing students with this information promotes transparency about the collection and handling of personal information, and ensures students are aware of their entitlements and obligations in respect to providing their personal information.
These matters are typically provided in a collection notice which is preferably given before or at the time of collection. If this is not practicable, then the collection notice can be given as soon as practicable after the information is collected.
Collection notices can combine the use of brief statements with full explanations to facilitate the provision of prescribed matters to students. An example of a full explanation is the privacy collection notice for student information used by Student Services and Administration. This notice is available within the University Handbook. Brief statements are placed on forms used by Student Services and Administration which make reference to the full explanation.
The University is committed to the handling of complaints fairly, consistently and promptly.
If a student brings forward a matter regarding an alleged breach of their privacy then that matter should be considered by the supervisor or person responsible for the area in which the alleged breach of privacy has occurred.
The student should be provided with informal advice and support to enable them to decide whether to take no action, deal with the matter individually, request a meeting to discuss the informal complaint, or request that their alleged breach of privacy be taken through the formal complaint process.
If the student requests that their alleged breach of privacy be taken through the formal complaint process, then they must submit their complaint to the University's Privacy Officer.
In accordance with the La Trobe policies on the management of personal and health information, the University's Privacy Officer will investigate the complaint as speedily as possible. The Privacy Officer will then advise the Vice-Chancellor or nominee of his/her findings and make recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor or nominee about the complaint.
The Vice-Chancellor or nominee will make a decision on the complaint and advise the complainant in writing of the result of the investigation.
Aside from the University's internal process for handling complaints, a student has the right to direct their complaint to the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection regarding an alleged breach of privacy in respect to their personal information. If an alleged breach of privacy is in respect to their health information, then the student has the right to direct their complaint to the Victorian Health Services Commissioner.