Government Departments and Services
The Department of Health
The Department of Health has a range of services, with information accessible on their website. The main Act under which the Department of Health functions in relation to disability is the Disability Services Act 2011. This Act gives the Department of Health powers to intervene to protect the rights of intellectually disabled people. It has the power of licensing training centres (that is, workshops) and residential centres (for example, boarding houses) for disabled people. The Department of Health can insist on conditions being improved and can withdraw licences if this is not done.
The range of services the Department of Health provides include: community access services, information and referral services, advocacy services, accommodation support services, individual support programs and respite services. See the website for more details.
Department of Health officials can, with the written permission of the Secretary of the Department of Health, enter and inspect specialist disability service provider premises in order to assess compliance with standards set out on the Disability Services Act. The Department has a general contact site where queries and complaints can be directed if there is an issue with services provided.
The Ombudsman can investigate the administrative conduct of government departments and prescribed and statutory authorities at both state and federal level, as well as local councils. See the Ombudsman section. Otherwise you can see the Ombudsman website, which gives step-by-step instructions on making a complaint.
Access to Information
There is no law saying that everyone is legally entitled to all information about themselves, but everyone should have access to information about themselves that affects their well-being. It is proper to ask for this information, and to keep asking until an answer is given. If the answer is given in terms that the person doesn’t understand, they should ask to have it explained more simply. In many cases, the information they seek will be provided without any legal obligation.
Information contained in files and documents held by Commonwealth government departments and authorities is available under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982. Information contained in files and documents held by Tasmanian government departments and authorities is available under the Tasmanian Right to Information Act 2009. There is also the Tasmanian Personal Information Protection Act 2004. This Act applies only as far as it is not inconsistent with the Right to Information Act 2009.
There is a problem associated with the large amounts of personal information held by medical and education authorities, health professionals, employers and government departments. Sometimes such information is disclosed without the knowledge or consent of the person concerned, causing prejudice or embarrassment to that person. Damage from such disclosures is even greater where the information is out of date, misleading or incomplete. There is now extensive protection of information held by Commonwealth government and other agencies under Commonwealth privacy legislation. See Privacy and Right to/Freedom of Information.