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12 March 1991 - Current

 
IMPROVING CANCER OUTCOMES BILL 2014
Page 2837
20 August 2014
ASSEMBLY Statement of Compatibility WOOLDRIDGE
                      IMPROVING CANCER OUTCOMES BILL 2014
                           Statement of compatibility
Ms  WOOLDRIDGE  (Minister  for  Mental  Health) tabled  following  statement  in
accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006:
  In   accordance  with  section  28   of  the  Charter  of   Human  Rights  and
  Responsibilities  Act 2006  (the  charter  act),  I  make  this  statement  of
  compatibility with  respect  to the Improving  Cancer Outcomes Bill  2014 (the
  bill).


Page 2838
In my opinion, the bill, as introduced into the Legislative Assembly, is compatible with the human rights set out in the charter act. I base this opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement. Overview of the bill The bill provides for the repeal of the Cancer Act 1958 (the act) and introduces modern cancer legislation, the principal aim of which is to support Victoria's efforts to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality and to enhance the wellbeing of those affected by cancer and the wellbeing of Victorians generally. The bill articulates the functions of the secretary to the Department of Health (the secretary) with respect to cancer, establishes a framework for the collection, management, use and disclosure of information relating to cancer, and provides a mechanism for setting Victoria's strategic policy framework for cancer. Human rights relevant to the bill The rights relevant to the bill are the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression. Both of these rights are examined below. The right to privacy Section 13(a) of the charter act provides that a person has the right not to have his or her privacy unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with. The clauses relevant to this right are described below. Part 3 of the bill empowers the secretary to collect the health information of individuals for the purpose of performing the secretary's functions with respect to cancer. Specifically, the bill provides for the mandatory reporting of prescribed information to the secretary about individuals who have been screened for cancer and those who have been diagnosed with cancer. The act has provided for the reporting of cancer diagnosis and screening information in Victoria since the 1980s. The bill remedies a number of the limitations identified with the current legislation by allowing for the secretary to direct that further information is provided in order to ensure the accuracy of reported information and empowering the secretary to collect health information about Victorian residents from other sources, including interstate cancer screening and cancer registers. Part 3 of the bill empowers the secretary to use and disclose the health information of individuals for the purpose of performing the secretary's functions with respect to cancer. These functions are articulated in part 2 of the bill and include promoting participation in cancer screening and supporting cancer research. For example, the secretary will be able to use an individual's health information to invite the individual to undergo cancer screening. The secretary would also be able to disclose an individual's health information to a third party undertaking cancer research. The bill also articulates a number of circumstances in which the secretary may lawfully disclose an individual's health information to a third party. These include where the purpose of the disclosure is to enable the recipient of the information to provide appropriate follow-up and clinical management to an individual who has been screened for cancer. For the reasons that follow, the limitations which the bill imposes on an individual's right to privacy are reasonable and justifiable. The bill provides for health information about individuals to be collected, used and disclosed in order to deliver better health outcomes for those individuals. For example, the bill will assist individuals in mitigating their risk of developing cancer by providing the means for a comprehensive record of their cancer screening history to be held in their home jurisdiction. More broadly, the bill allows for the information which is collected by the secretary to be used to benefit the health of the broader community. Cancer incidence in Victoria is projected to increase over the coming years as the population ages. The bill will better position Victoria to deal with the challenges posed by this disease by empowering the secretary to make well-informed decisions about the provision of health services relating to cancer and the development of cancer policies, programs and initiatives. Further, the bill will inform cancer research and promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of health services relating to cancer. The bill also sets out a number of safeguards for the protection of an individual's privacy. For example, section 14 of the bill provides that if the secretary uses or discloses health information for a purpose other than performing the secretary's functions, consent of the individual is required. Further, the secretary is required to comply with the protections and safeguards set out in the Health Records Act 2001 in collecting, using and disclosing health information. The right to freedom of expression Section 15 of the charter act articulates the right to freedom of expression. The mandatory reporting obligations which are contained in part 3 of the bill are relevant to this right as these provisions compel prescribed persons or organisations to report information about individuals screened for or diagnosed with cancer to the secretary. Section 15(3)(b) of the charter act recognises that the right to freedom of expression may be subject to lawful restrictions reasonably necessary for the protection of public health. These provisions are considered reasonably necessary to allow for the secretary to perform his or her functions with respect to cancer. As stated with respect to the right to privacy, the bill provides for information which has been collected by the secretary to be used for public health purposes. Hon. Mary Wooldridge, MP Minister for Mental Health