The Privacy Legislation Amendment Act 2006 (Cth) made changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Privacy Act) to allow health practitioners to disclose patient’s genetic information, whether or not they give consent, in circumstances where there is reasonable belief that doing so is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of their genetics relative(s). The amendments do not oblige disclosure of information but provide the framework for this to occur under the appropriate circumstances.
The guidelines entitled ‘Use and disclosure of genetic information to a patient’s genetic relatives under Section 95AA of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) – Guidelines for health practitioners in the private sector’ (the Guidelines) specify the requirements that must be met by health practitioners if they choose to use or disclose genetic information without patient consent under Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 6.2(d). Disclosure without consent must be made in accordance with APP 6.2(d) and the Guidelines.
First released in 2009, the Guidelines have been updated to ensure that they accord with the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 which amends the Privacy Act effective 12 March 2014.
The Guidelines are effective from 12 March 2014.
Further information on the 2014 amendments to the Privacy Act 1988, including the Australian Privacy Principles, is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.