The Family Court values the privacy of everyone whose information it holds. This Privacy Statement tells you briefly about the personal information we hold, including how we protect and use it and your rights to see it. Because it is an outline, this Privacy Statement is not a substitute for more detailed legal or other advice. However, it does mention some ways you may obtain further help.
When we refer to 'personal information' we mean information about a person from which his or her identity can be worked out.
The Family Court collects, holds and uses personal information for two main purposes:
Information used for the judicial purpose is held in the Court’s case files and the Court’s case management computer system Casetrack and other records relating to cases. The case file for a case contains all of the documents filed in the case and related papers. Casetrack contains information needed to facilitate the exercise of the Court’s judicial power such as details of the parties and others involved in a case and records of court events and documents filed.
The Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act do not apply to information the Court holds for judicial purposes. Instead, this information is protected by the Family Law Act 1975 and the Family Law Rules 2004.
Section 121 of Family Law Act 1975 limits publication of reports of proceedings and of lists of cases. The section sets out a number of exceptions. The Court may authorise publication of accounts of proceedings, including on the Internet. Except in exceptional cases or in formal law reports, published accounts of the Court’s proceedings are anonymised. The Court maintains non-anonymised versions of judgments in internal databases accessible to Court staff.
Rule 24.13 of the Family Law Rules 2004 strictly limits those who are allowed to inspect the Court’s records relating to particular cases.
If you are a party to a case, or are not a party but have a sufficient interest in the case or in information from the case file and the Court has given you permission, you may inspect the records of the Court relating to the case. Arrangements to do this have to be made in advance through the client services manager in the registry where the file is located. If you are not a party and need special permission, your request will be considered by a registrar.
When you inspect case records, you will be shown only the Court documents filed, unless the Court has given you permission to see any other documents. These additional documents for which permission is required include correspondence with the file which may be between other parties and the Court and any transcripts on the file.
Information we hold for administrative purposes is collected in the day-to-day running of the Court as an organisation. It includes information about court staff, about those who supply it with goods and services and about security issues. It also includes answers to questions on court forms about clients’ backgrounds and need for interpreters.
If the Court did not hold this information, it would be unable to manage its affairs, obtain goods and services, pay suppliers and staff, secure the safety of its staff and others on its premises and sometimes to make necessary arrangements for court events.
The Commonwealth’s Privacy Act 1988 and Freedom of Information Act apply to this information. This means that the Court is treated as an agency under them. The Information Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act govern the collection, storage, disclosure and use of this information. The Freedom of Information Act may allow access to and correction of it in certain circumstances.
If you wish to see documents of an administrative nature held by the Court then you will need to ask to see them. Normally such a request will be handled under the Freedom of Information Act. If this applies and you need to apply under it, the Court will tell you. This will involve you making a request that is sufficiently clear for the documents to which it refers to be identified and paying the application fee – $30 at the date of this statement. Your request will be considered along with any relevant grounds for exemption of the documents. If they relate to any other person, then that person will be asked for his or her views on your request and the Court will consider them.
Access may be given in a number of ways, such as a copy of a document or an opportunity to see it. However, if your request is refused, then you may seek internal review within the Court and, if you are still dissatisfied, seek review of the Court’s decision from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The Court routinely records proceedings. Sound recording in a courtroom may not cease when the Court rises.
As a security measure we also operate Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in most premises where we operate and routinely retain copies of footage recorded. The images of people on our premises and in some cases adjacent to them are recorded.
Sound and CCTV records are used to produce transcripts, to help secure the safety of persons and property and to monitor compliance with the law and security procedures. They are passed to law enforcement agencies and to external contractors for these purposes.
Because the Freedom of Information, or FOI, scheme applies to some documents the Court holds, the Court may give access to those documents under the scheme. The FOI scheme allows access to be given in a number of possible ways, including by rights of inspection or by being given copies. FOI contains protections for people’s private information although if those affected do not agree with the Court’s decision, the final decision may be made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The Court uses external contractors to help it both in relation to the judicial purpose and the administrative purpose. Where it does so, it provides personal information to them as required to enable them to provide services to the Court.
The Court may make a publication order to help locate a child or for other necessary reasons as well as authorising publication of an account of proceedings so that anyone with a need to have access to decided cases, such as lawyers, can do so. As mentioned above, a person who is not a party to proceedings but has a sufficient interest in information to be found on the Court file may also be allowed to see all or a part of the file as mentioned above, even if a party does not agree.
The Court also uses personal information to respond to feedback and complaints, including where complainants raise complaints with the Ombudsman, the Human Rights and equal Opportunity Commission, Members of Parliament or others who act in an official capacity.
Information about a case may be used to help evaluate and improve the Court’s services or to contact people involved in the case or for research or an evaluation. This research may be conducted by people outside the Court, such as academic researchers. If this arises, the Court may contact you and ask if you wish to take part. Your choice whether or not to take part is absolutely free and will not affect any matter you have before the Court. It is not compulsory to take part in research or an evaluation and there are absolutely no negative consequences for the case of anyone who decides not to do so.
Finally, where a lawful request for information is made by a person or body with the legal authority to obtain the information requested the Court will supply it. This applies to information the Court holds for both its administrative and judicial purposes.
If you send us an email message, we will record your email address and may retain your message as correspondence. Even if we delete it, a copy may be retained in backup records.
As a general rule, we do not collect personal information about you when you visit our website. You can visit our site without telling us who you are or revealing other personal information unless you choose to do so. If you visit our site to download or read information, we may record:
If you visit our website to file a document, we may make and retain records of the kinds mentioned above as well as information about your identity as a person entitled to file a document and the document itself. We do this for purposes related to administration of the Court’s Electronic Filing system.
You can seek your own legal advice about these matters. Also, if you wish to ask any questions about the things this leaflet covers, you can write to the Court’s Administrative Law Coordinator at Box 9991, Canberra Act 2601. The Court can provide you with general information but you must decide yourself whether that is sufficient for your purpose. The Court cannot provide you with legal advice or representation. For questions about privacy matters generally, you may also contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner at 1300 363 992 or www.privacy.gov.auGo back to top of page