2 What is confidentiality? ‘Confidentiality’ means making sure that information is only available to those who are authorised to have access.Usually, this will mean keeping things secret between the client and you, the worker.As a worker, you will find out things that should not be shared amongst your family, your community or the client’s family.Confidentialitywhat is confidentiality?Confidentiality means keeping private or secret what someone tells you. Clients need to feel sure that what they say to a worker stays confidential. This includes keeping any written records safe, and not telling their family members about it. Any worker who has any information that is private must learn to keep this confidential. That means, they have to make sure that they don’t let anyone else find out about it. This is especially important for any workers who have a counselling role or work face-to-face with clients where they might find out some of their private information. Are there any exceptions? Can we share what we know about clients with someone else?The obvious exception to this is if the client says it’s ok to tell someone else, so you should always get their permission before telling anyone else about what you have talked about. The main exceptions to this are: • if the client is a child and is being abused or is at risk of abuse; Legally, just about anyone who works with under 16 year olds is a mandatory reporter- someone who legally must tell the Department of Community Services (DoCS) if they reasonably believe that a child’s welfare, safety or well-being is at risk of harm from factors such as abuse, neglect or domestic violence. See the Child Protection section for more details on what to do when this happens. • if you are concerned that the client might hurt themself or someone else; If a client threatens to hurt themselves, or to suicide, you may breach their confidentiality to stop this from happening. We all have a duty to make sure that others are safe, and this duty is stronger if we are responsible for their care at the time. • If the client tells you they have committed a really serious crime, You may also need to report this to the police. For minor crimes, you are protected from reporting this, but your clients might not know this unless you tell them. It is always a good idea to tell clients that whatever they tell you is confidential except in the above circumstances, at the beginning of your contact with them. This means that if you do have to act to keep them safe, it is not a shock to them.Are there other times when people break confidentiality?The times when people in agencies often break confidentiality (but shouldn’t) are when: • Staff talk about clients in public places or where they can be overheard, • files are kept on desks, filing cabinets are left unlocked, • com munication books are kept in full view of people coming into an office, and so on.
3 What is so important about confidentiality? Confidentiality is important because clients tell us things, expecting us to keep it confidential.EXAMPLE: Jimmy told his new coach that he couldn’t come to football because there were some problems at home. He assumed he could tell his coach because he trusted coaches, even though he didn’t know the new one.
4 What is so important about confidentiality? Confidentiality is important because clients tell us things, expecting us to keep it confidential.Confidentiality is all about our position of trust- we need to show people that we can be trusted.EXAMPLE: Cheryl wasn’t sure about telling her youthworker, Jim, about her drug problems. Her friend told her that Jim didn’t blab when he knew about her pregnancy, so they knew he could be trusted.
5 Confidentiality is hard Confidentiality can be hardest when you:Feel like the family should know everything about their kidsFeel like the police should know about any crimesFind it hard not to gossipAre related to the people you work with
6 Confidentiality is hard Confidentiality means proving that you, and your club, can be trusted.Often, young people can’t get help because there is no- one they trust enough to keep things confidential.
7 There are exceptions Sometimes we can’t keep things confidential. The exceptions are:If you find out someone could get hurt because of what you knowEXAMPLE 1: Barry said he was going to hurt Grace when he got home. The youthworker, Jim, had a duty to protect Grace, so he let Barry know that he couldn’t just keep this information to himself. They talked for a while, and Barry agreed to stay at a friend’s until he sobered up.
8 There are exceptions Sometimes we can’t keep things confidential. The exceptions are:If you find out someone could get hurt because of what you knowEXAMPLE 2: Jim found out that Anna was trying to hurt herself by taking an overdose of drugs. He called an ambulance to protect her.
9 There are exceptions: Sometimes we can’t keep things confidential. The exceptions are:If you find out someone could get hurt because of what you knowThis is especially important if kids are involvedEXAMPLE 3: Jim thinks that the kids he works with are being abused. He knows that he legally has to get some help for them. He calls DoCS, who set up some help for them.
10 There are exceptions: Sometimes we can’t keep things confidential. The exceptions are:If you find out someone could get hurt because of what you knowIf a major crime is planned, or being committedEXAMPLE 4: Jim knows about his clients’ drug use and car stealing, and they know he doesn’t tell the police.He makes sure they know that he would have to tell police if he knew about major drug trafficking, so they don’t tell him anything like that.
11 ConfidentialityWe need to keep files and records in a place where people won’t see them if they are not supposed to.EXAMPLE 5: Jim keeps the permission forms on a clipboard when he takes kids out on activities. He makes sure he puts it where no- one can read them, so that no- one finds out about other people’s medical problems.
12 ConfidentialityWe need to keep files and records in a place where people won’t see them if they are not supposed to.Clients are always allowed to read their own files, though. We keep secrets for them, not from them.EXAMPLE 5: Stacey wants to read her file. Jim finds a time and place where she can do this. Stacey found some things which weren’t true, so Jim corrected them for her. Stacey now trusts the service even more, since she knows they won’t keep secrets from her.
13 ConfidentialityIt is important that young people know that you will mostly keep things confidential, so they can get help if they need it.It is important that young people know that you will not always keep things confidential, so they are not confused if you ring DoCS or the police.
14 ConfidentialityIf you are not sure about whether to keep something confidential, ask your supervisor.This fact sheet will tell you more about confidentiality:
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