The participant has a right to privacy and leaders must respect the participant’s right to privacy.

Leaders are entrusted with a significant amount of information about the participant with a disability they assist on a sport or active recreation program. This information may be passed to them by:

  • the program manager;
  • the coordinator;
  • parents/ caregivers;
  • other leaders ; and
  • the person with the disability.

This information is made available to the leader specifically for the purposes of assisting in the provision of the highest standard of care possible. We have access to information to use it for the participant’s benefit. There must be a good reason to give out any of this information to anyone else.

This information is confidential and must not be shared with others without the prior consent of the participant/care giver concerned.

The person who has permission to give out confidential information is charged with the responsibility to carefully choose which information it is necessary to share.

An example of this –

You may be involved in a group activity where it is advisable for other leaders to be aware that your one-to-one has a tendency to wander off and pick wildflowers and hence heads for the bush at every opportunity.

It is not necessary for the leaders to be informed, for example, of the participant’s deprived childhood, or that he/she was abused and put in an institution and now has happy memories of Sunday walks in the bush.

The participant has a right to privacy and a right to expect that confidential information will not be discussed in casual conversation. We must ensure that our actions do not threaten a participant’s right to privacy or their control over information about themselves.

The law of torts that relates to the wrongs done in ‘trespass, nuisance or defamation’ can protect a participant’s privacy.

Confidential information is information entrusted to another as a matter to be kept secret. Situations can occur where the leader’s duty of confidentiality conflicts with the responsibilities to others whose wellbeing or welfare can be at risk if they remain ignorant, but in the sport and active recreation this is rare.

Breaches of confidentiality most often occur when the leader discusses their experiences with peers, family and others, and in so doing refers to a participant and provides information about the participant that is confidential. Often this is done without intention, but this information can be potentially harmful to the participant. It can also occur when the leader’s discussions with another leader or coordinator is overheard by another who should not have access to the information.

Harm to a participant as a result of breach of confidentiality can be in the areas of:

  • embarrassment to the participant;
  • adversely influencing a leader’s assessment of the participant with disability to make use of a service; and
  • influencing the attitudes of another who may respond differently to the participant, for example – be overprotective and not interact with, or ridicule the participant.

We are often tempted to tell a colleague or leader more about a participant so they will ‘understand the client’ or be ‘nicer to’ or ‘try harder to help’. Resist this temptation, not only is it a breach of privacy, it is unfair to the participant, it is unethical and it can embarrass the participant.

The following will assist us to maintain confidentiality.

  • Respect the dignity of the participant.
  • Respect the participant’s right to control the spread of information about self.
  • Remember that you are in position of trust.

We can do this by:

  • Never gossiping about a participant.
  • Never discussing a participant where a passer-by can overhear.
  • Questioning someone who asks for specific information, Why do they need to know?
  • Keeping papers about a participant in a safe place.
  • Being clear and strong in our desire to maintain confidentiality – relate it to your own life.
  • Being convinced that it is important to maintain confidentiality.
  • Remembering that service providers and staff of an agency do not have the automatic right to access all kinds of personal information.