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Monday, April 09, 2007

Privacy preoccupation in Victorian Health Department endangers lives

It's hard to know exactly what happened in the case of the Victorian Department of Health's refusal to provide the Police with information about a HIV positive man who experts regarded as a danger to the community. He has now been charged with over 100 offences of attempting to infect 16 others. The Police were denied access to information last year and some offences have apparently occurred since then.

Some press reports claim the Department refused the Police access to information about him and complaints received on "privacy" grounds; others, that the Department argued in court against an order to produce documents to the Police, on the basis of "public interest immunity". Both sound far fetched.

As the President of the Australian Medical Association said, there are limits on the right to privacy when people are engaging in dangerous or criminal behaviour.

Those involved in Victoria still seem to have a fair bit to explain in this case. The Minister - under pressure over this and other issues - has promised a review of information sharing between the Police and health authorities.

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