Day 41- David (Part I)

I’m a quiet bloke and mostly keep to myself. I used to hold down a high level job, lived in big cities and now I just live by myself out in the bush.

I’ve had some really bad experiences with my privacy being breached. Not everyone understands about HIV, and some people can be quite aggressive or violent about it.

So you can imagine my shock when I go down to my local job find agency – I had been doing courses and asked Centrelink for assistance to get back into the workforce – and found that the woman there had all my private health information, including the fact that I had HIV!

I knew this woman, June, it’s a small town so everyone knows everyone. I felt absolutely violated. I had never given permission for this to happen, in fact I had make it absolutely clear that my health information was private and sensitive and I had asked for additional privacy protections.

HALC made a complaint on my behalf and I found out that Centrelink releases this private medical information to the job agency as a matter of course. I knew this had to be wrong. HALC helped me to take my case to the Supreme Court of NSW, where it was heard by 5 judges, and we had a barrister who didn’t charge me.  After two years we ended up losing at the Supreme Court on a technicality.

I had had to leave my home town where I had built up a whole new life for myself after the disclosure. I had to leave all my support networks. It can be pretty rough in those small towns for an elderly, gay man living with HIV, and I was too worried about trouble.

HALC then helped me lodge a complaint under Federal Privacy legislation.

Read Part II of David’s story tomorrow…

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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]