8 April 2023

'Dysfunction and chaos': WorkSafe ACT potentially tied up in alleged privacy breach from Dhulwa Mental Health unit

| Claire Fenwicke
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Dhulwa Mental Health Unit

It’s believed WorkSafe ACT has also been sent private patient data from the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit without those people’s consent. Photo: Google Maps.

A second ACT entity could be impacted by the alleged release of private patient documents from the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit.

WorkSafe ACT issued a statement today (Thursday, 6 April) saying it had been notified on 31 March by Canberra Health Services (CHS) that it “may be in possession of health records and sensitive personal information” relating to the unit.

“WorkSafe ACT takes this matter very seriously and is assisting CHS with its enquiries and is following all necessary notification procedures,” it said.

“Concurrently, WorkSafe ACT is reviewing its information collection processes to determine whether enhancements are required.

“No further comments will be made at this time.”

It’s previously been revealed the details of 13 people had been released in an alleged privacy breach, which CHS CEO Dave Peffer said spanned “years”.

The data was sent without their consent or knowledge to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s ACT branch.

The union has said the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act allows information to be provided to third parties without their consent under certain circumstances and that it would contest claims staff had acted unlawfully.

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Acting Canberra Liberals Leader Jeremy Hanson said this latest revelation added to the “dysfunction and chaos” that surrounded the management of the secure mental health facility.

“How this entire debacle has played out in the media highlights the secrecy by a flailing Minister and it is clear we are a long way from understanding the full picture,” he said.

“If the Minister and Labor-Greens government spends all its time trying to hide what is happening from the public then it is impossible for them to fix the problems.”

A CHS spokesperson confirmed the alleged WorkSafe breach was the same one linked to the nursing union.

“CHS has contacted the ANMF and WorkSafe ACT,” they said.

“CHS is continuing its investigations into this serious matter regarding a breach of patient privacy at Dhulwa.”

They also confirmed more people had been linked to the allegedly deliberate breach.

“There has been one termination of employment from Dhulwa, as has been previously reported,” the spokesperson said.

“There are also now six employees from Dhulwa that have been referred for investigation, four of whom have been suspended.”

Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson has been contacted for comment.

More to come.

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