Participant Rights and Responsibilities Policy Procedure

As a commitment to the rights of our Participants, Cocoon Group Services ensures this policy is applied to all our employees, contractors, volunteers and potential and existing Participants, their family members and supporters.

Cocoon respects and fully commits to upholding the rights of all people, including those with disabilities and ensuring its Participants are made aware of their rights and responsibilities and are supported to exercise them.

Cocoon acknowledges that people with disabilities have the same human rights as other members of the community and that the community has a responsibility to facilitate the exercise of those rights.

Participants have the right to:

  • Fair treatment – regardless of gender, religion, disability, cultural and linguistic background, or age
  • Honesty, respect, dignity, and regard for privacy and individuality
  • Information and support to access services in the community
  • To be an active partner in the services provided
  • Make informed decisions and choices about the services they receive
  • A safe, secure, and comfortable environment whilst using the service
  • Quality services, appropriate to their needs and age.
  • The support that considers lifestyle and cultural differences
  • Pursue a grievance about the service and to have that grievance resolved in a timely and appropriate manner
  • Have a support person/advocate/ally of their choice to represent them in matters relating to their support.

Participants have a responsibility to:

  • Respect other people’s rights to a safe, secure, and comfortable environment.
  • Treat other Participants, staff and volunteers with fairness, honesty, and respect.
  • Respect other people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality
  • Follow the programs’ policies and procedures as they relate to Participants and access to support

If you feel your rights are violated:

Privacy and Confidentiality Policy and Procedure

Cocoon Group Services (Cocoon) will ensure that our organization provides Participants access to services and supports, that respect and protect their dignity and right to privacy.

Cocoon understands people with disabilities are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse than others within our community, and workers with access to Participant information automatically occupy risk-assessed roles under the NDIS Commission.

As the risk to privacy and confidentiality arises from the collection, storage, and sharing of Participant information, our Safe Storage and Access Policy protects Participants from abuse and exploitation.

There is a risk that information will be shared inadvertently and without the intention to do harm and information may be unintentionally disclosed. Cocoon’s policy aims to minimise this risk by:

  • Raising staff awareness of privacy and confidentiality
  • Include our policies and procedures regarding Privacy and Confidentiality in our staff induction
  • Ensuring consent is obtained before gathering data (including audio and photographic data)
  • Ensuring that consent is specific to the use of data, and that consent is current
  • Encouraging Participants to provide feedback and complaints about the use of their information.

Our Privacy and Confidentiality policy applies to current and potential Participants, their carers, and family members.

Cocoon is committed to the transparent management of personal and health information about its Participants and staff. This commitment includes protecting the privacy of personal information, in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) set out in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cwlth).

Cocoon is committed to protecting and upholding the Participant’s right to privacy and dignity as we collect, store, and handle information about them, their families, their needs, and services provided to them.

Cocoon requires that all employees and management to be consistent and careful in the way they manage what is written and said about individuals and how they decide who can see or hear the information.

Cocoon will ensure that each Participant understands and agrees to what personal information will be collected and informed of the reason for the collection. The participant will be informed and agree to this information being recorded material in an audio and/or visual format.

Cocoon will advise each Participant of their right to privacy using the language, mode of communication, and terms that the Participant is most likely to understand.

Cocoon will ensure that:

  • It meets its legal and ethical obligations as an employer and service provider in relation to protecting the privacy of Participants and organizational personnel.
  • Participants are provided with information about their rights regarding privacy and confidentiality.
  • Participants and organizational personnel are provided with privacy, and confidentiality is assured when they are being interviewed or discussing matters of a personal or sensitive nature.
  • All staff, management, and volunteers understand what is required in meeting these obligations.
  • Participants and staff members are advised of Cocoon’s confidentiality process using the language, mode of communications, and terms that are most likely to be understood. Cocoon will attempt to locate interpreters (if required) and will use easy access materials.

Personal Information

 To deliver quality service, it will be necessary for Cocoon to collect a Participant’s personal information which may include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Residency status
  • Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • Bank account details
  • Tax file number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Centrelink information
  • Photographs
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Medical history or information provided by a health service.

In collecting personal information, Cocoon Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager will inform you:

  • That information is being collected
  • The purposes for collection
  • Who will have access to the information
  • The right to seek access to, and/or correct, the information
  • The right to make a complaint or appeal decisions about the handling of their information.

Your information will be used to:

  • Assess and provide services
  • Administer and manage those services
  • Evaluate and improve those services
  • Contribute to research
  • Contact family, carers, or other third parties if required
  • Meet our obligations under the NDIS.

Participant Consent

Participants will be asked to provide their consent for collection of information at the time of commencing service with Cocoon. Your signed consent form will be placed on your file and held securely with access limited to staff members requiring this information in the performance of their role(s).

Updating of Participant’s Information

  • To ensure your information is accurate, complete, current, relevant, and not misleading, the Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager checks personal details with your files accordingly whenever reviewing your services and/or upon being informed of changes or inaccuracies by you, your representative or other stakeholder(s).
  • There will be no charge for any correction of personal information.
  • Where Cocoon’s Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager has previously disclosed your personal information to other parties, should the you notify these parties of any change to your details, we take reasonable steps to do so.

Collection and Storage of Personal Information

The Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager collects information:

  • Directly from Participants either verbally or in writing.
  • From third parties, such as medical practitioners, government agencies, Participant representatives, carer/s, and other health service providers.
  • From Participant’s referrals.
  • From publicly available sources of information.

The Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager will collect sensitive information:

  • Only with your consent, unless an exemption applies: e.g. the collection is required by law, court/tribunal order or is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to life or health.
  • Fairly, lawfully, and non-intrusively.
  • Directly from you, if doing so is reasonable and practicable.
  • Only where deemed necessary to support:
    • Service delivery to Participants.
    • Staff activities and functions.
    • Giving you the option of interacting anonymously, if lawful and practicable.

The Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager take all reasonable steps to protect your personal information against loss, interference, misuse, unauthorized access, modification, or disclosure. Authorized staff will destroy, or permanently deidentify personal information that is:

  • No longer needed.
  • Unsolicited and could not have been obtained directly.
  • Not required to be retained by, or under, an Australian law or a court/tribunal order.

Cocoon has appropriate security measures in place to protect your information in stored electronic and hard-copy materials with access levels depending on team roles and responsibilities. Our archiving process for Participant files ensures files are securely and confidentially stored.

Should a breach in privacy occur, potentially exposing Participants’ information the Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager, or delegate will immediately act to rectify the breach in accordance with the organizational Incident and Investigation Procedure.

Disclosing information

Cocoon respects the right to privacy and confidentiality, and will not disclose personal information except:

  • Where disclosure would protect the Participant and/or others.
  • Where necessary for best service practice
  • Where obligated by law.

For these purposes, Cocoon may disclose your personal information to other people, organizations, or service providers, including:

  • Medical and allied health service providers who assist with the services we provide to Participants.
  • a person responsible, if the participant is unable to give or communicate consent e.g. next of kin, carer, or guardian
  • A Participant’s authorized representative/s e.g. legal adviser.
  • Our professional advisers, e.g. lawyers, accountants, auditors.
  • Government and regulatory authorities, e.g. Centrelink, government departments, and the Australian Taxation Office.
  • When required or authorized by law.

Accessing personal information

You can request and be granted access to your personal information, subject to exceptions allowed by law.

Requests to access personal information must state:

  • The information to be accessed.
  • The preferred means of accessing the information.
  • And should be forwarded to the Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager either verbally, or in writing to compliance@cocoons.com.au or statemanager@cocoons.com.au

The request will be assessed and will be actioned within 24 hours.

Complaints

Questions or concerns about Cocoon’s privacy practices should be brought, in the first instance, to the Compliance Manager, Business Development Manager, and/or State Manager’s attention.

You may directly email questions or concerns to compliance@cocoons.com.au and/or statemanager@cocoons.com.au.

In investigating the complaint Cocoon may, where necessary, contact you to obtain more information.

You will be advised of the outcomes and actions arising from the investigation either in writing or in person.

If concerns cannot be resolved and you wish to formally complain about how your personal information is managed, or if you believe Cocoon has breached your privacy, you may contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission on 1800 035 544.

Breaches of Privacy

Cocoon requires it’s staff to disclose a data breach as soon as they become aware and their direct manager or supervisor will investigate and act accordingly.  Any staff member that becomes aware of a breach of privacy but does not report it, will be subject to disciplinary action which may result dismissal.  As Cocoon takes your privacy very seriously, an intentional breach of privacy by a member of our team will result in instant dismissal.

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