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Coroners Court of Victoria Privacy Statement
The Coroners Court of Victoria operates independently, impartially and fairly within a legal framework, while at the same time respecting the dignity and privacy of the person who has died and acknowledging the rights, needs and privacy of the bereaved family.
This document outlines the arrangements made within the Coroners Court of Victoria to comply with the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (the Privacy Act).
Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
The Privacy Act outlines the arrangements to be made for the proper and appropriate handling of private information collected, held and exchanged by certain bodies. The Privacy Act prescribes certain exemptions and is without force or effect to the extent of any inconsistency with any other Act.
Exemption from Privacy Act Judicial or Quasi-Judicial Functions
A general exemption to the provisions of the Privacy Act applies to Courts and Tribunals pursuant to section 10:
Nothing in this Act or any Information Privacy Principle (IPP) or any data security standard applies in respect of the collection, holding management, use, disclosure or transfer of personal information
(a) in relation to its or the holder's judicial or quasi-judicial functions, by:
(i) a court or tribunal; or
(ii) the holder of a judicial or quasi-judicial office or other office pertaining to a court or tribunal in his or her capacity as the holder of that office; or
(b) in relation to those matters which relate to the judicial or quasi-judicial functions of the court or tribunal, by:
(i) a registry or other office of a court or tribunal; or
(ii) the staff of such a registry or other office in their capacity as members of that staff.
This means that the functions of the Coroners Court of Victoria and those Magistrates' Courts when exercising jurisdiction under the Coroners Act 2008, are exempt in relation to their judicial or quasi-judicial functions (ie. normal business operations).
Information Rules applying to Judicial or Quasi-Judicial Functions
The rules governing the information aspects of the judicial function are to be found in the Coroner's Act 2008, and the rules and regulations pursuant thereto which govern public access to, confidentiality, and suppression of court records and hearings
Personal Information caught by the Privacy Act
Administrative functions of the court (e.g. Human Resource functions) are caught by the Privacy Act and the Coroners Court of Victoria and its staff are required to comply with the Act in relation to administrative functions.
In compliance with the PrivacyAct, the Coroners Court of Victoria manages non-exempt personal information in accordance with the ten Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) detailed in Schedule 1 of the Act.
Coroners Court of Victoria Information Privacy Contact
Queries, comments and complaints on privacy matters should be addressed in the first instance to:
Coroners Court of Victoria
65 Kavanagh Street, Southbank, 3006
Phone: 1300 309 519
Fax: 1300 546 989
Practices and Procedures in the Coroners Court of Victoria relating to court records, access to court records, inquest hearings and other relevant information.
Court of Public Record
The Coroners Court of Victoria is a Court of public record. All proceedings are to be conducted in open court. A coroner can make an proceeding suppression order pursuant to the Open Courts Act 2013.
Accessing coronial documents
The Coroners Court of Victoria keeps a record of each coronial investigation into a death or fire and of such other matters as are directed by the Coroners Act 2008 or the Regulations.
Any person seeking coronial documents must make an application pursuant to section 115 of the Coroners Act 2008 on the approved Form 45 available on the Coroners Court of Victoria website www.coronerscourt.vic.gov.au.
A coroner has discretion to release a document, with or without conditions, to-
- an interested party if the coroner is satisfied that the party has a sufficient interest in the document;
- a statutory body if the coroner is satisfied that the release of the document is required to allow the statutory body to exercise a statutory function;
- a police officer for law enforcement purposes;
- a person who is conducting research if the coroner is satisfied that the research has been approved by an appropriate human research ethics committee;
- any person if the coroner is satisfied that the release is in the public interest.
Applicants may be required to pay processing charges in respect of the applicant’s application. If so, a statement of charges will be provided to the applicant.
Audio Record of Proceedings
Any person may, upon completion of the investigation or at any other time upon the direction of a coroner, obtain a copy of the audio record upon payment of the relevant fee.
Subpoenaed Files Files Produced to Court
Files subpoenaed for a Inquest/Court hearing are produced to the Registrar or the Court (not to another party).
Subpoenaed files or files produced to the court for use in an investigation, cannot be inspected without an order of a coroner.
Personal Information Not Subject To Exemption
As to the handling of personal information which is not subject to the exemption provisions of the Act, the Coroners Court of Victoria complies with the ten Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) contained in the Act as follows:
Principle 1 - Collection
The Coroners Court of Victoria will only collect personal information where it is necessary for one or more of its functions.
Principle 2 - Use and Disclosure
The Coroners Court of Victoria does not disclose personal information unless the next of kin has consented to the use or disclosure or except in circumstances where disclosure is authorised by law.
Principle 3 - Data Quality
The Coroners Court of Victoria makes all reasonable effort to ensure that the personal information it collects is accurate, complete, up to date and relevant to its functions and activities.
Principle 4 - Data Security
The Coroners Court of Victoria takes all reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. All staff are required to respect the confidentiality of the personal information and the privacy of individuals obtained from the information that is collected.
Principle 5 - Openness
Principle 6 - Access and Correction
The Coroners Court of Victoria will, upon request and subject to the exceptions stated in the Privacy Act, provide an individual about whom it holds information or their next of kin (if applicable) with access to the information. The next of kin have a right to seek access to personal information and make corrections. If the Coroners Court of Victoria holds personal information that the next of kin thinks is not accurate, complete or up to date, the Coroners Court of Victoria will take reasonable steps to correct the information. If access to the information is denied, the reasons for denial of access, or refusal to correct personal information, will be provided.
Principle 7 - Unique Identifiers
A unique identifier is usually a number assigned to an individual in order to identify the person for the purposes of an organisation's operations. Tax file numbers and Driver's Licence numbers are examples. The Coroners Court of Victoria will only assign a unique identifier to a person , use a unique identifier, or ask a person to provide a unique identifier, when this is necessary to enable the Coroners Court of Victoria to carry out any of its functions efficiently.
Principle 8 - Anonymity
The Coroners Court of Victoria gives next of kin the option of not identifying themselves when entering into transactions, if that is practical, lawful and feasible.
Principle 9 - Transborder Data Flows
The Coroners Act 2008 enables the coroner to use any of his or her powers to assist a coroner in another State or Territory investigate a death or fire. Personal information will only be transferred out of Victoria if the recipient protects privacy under standards similar to the Victorian IPPs, or for use in that State or Territory according to its' laws.
Principle 10 - Sensitive Information
The Coroners Court of Victoria does not collect sensitive information which is irrelevant to the investigation of a death or fire without the consent of the next of kin. Sensitive information can be racial or ethnic origin, political views, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, memberships of groups, or criminal records.