We take the privacy and confidentiality of our customers’ information very seriously. However, there are some situations where we may be required to share information with other companies, government departments, and/or family members and carers. For example, if we are administering the estate and/or managing the financial affairs of a customer then we will be legally required to share some information with other people or organisations to enable us to do our job properly.
This section of our website gives more information about our responsibilities, and customer’s rights, in relation to the privacy and confidentiality of personal information.
The Government of South Australia is committed to protecting the privacy of every customer’s personal information, and Public Trustee must comply with the Government’s Information Privacy Principles (IPPs), which are issued as a Government Administrative Instruction. These principles regulate the ways in which personal information can be collected, used, stored, and/or disclosed to third parties. The IPPs also provide customers with the right to access and amend their own personal information.
The Public Trustee can be contacted on (08) 8226 9200 or on 1800 673 119 (country SA toll free) between 8.45am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. You can leave a message outside these hours and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively you can email the Public Trustee and we will get back to you as soon as is possible.
Before making application for access to documents held by Public Trustee through the Freedom of Information Act 1991, you have the right to make a request for information held by Public Trustee, and there will be no charge for requests where information is readily available, for example, a report exists which contains the information you want and all we need to do is copy the report and give it to you. For more complex requests, such as when one of our staff members needs to collate the information for you from a number of sources, then we will have to charge fees. These fees will be the amount prescribed in the current regulations under the Act.
If we decide not to release information to you and you are unhappy with our decision, you can then apply to access the information under the Freedom of Information Act. All applications must be made in writing and sent to the Accredited FOI Officer.
The Accredited FOI Officer
Attorney General’s Department
GPO Box 464
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Public Trustee is an agency that is bound by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (the Act). The following details are provided as part of the information statement we are required to provide to you by the Act.
It is important for you to realise that Public Trustee is exempt from the provisions of the Act with regard to any of the functions or roles that we perform in relation to the roles of executor, administrator, and/or trustee.
This means that we are not required under the Act to release personal information about our customers, and the Act can only be applied to our corporate operations.
Sometimes we will receive applications from third parties, on behalf of our customers, requesting information about the work we are doing with those customers. Generally, we only have a legal obligation to release information to these third parties if we are ordered to by a Court.
If a person has been appointed an administrator under an administration order from SACAT then they are entitled to request a copy of the protected person’s Will.
We will only release information about a Will held at Public Trustee where the person who made the Will is still living and has given written consent for the release of that particular information. The written consent must provide a date of birth and an original signature that will need to be verified against the signature on the Will.
In certain circumstances we may request that a doctor certify that the customer who holds the Will with us has the legal capacity to give consent for the release of information regarding their Will.
Enduring Power of Attorney Customers
A person who has been assigned as an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), who is acting for a customer who has been assessed as having lost their mental capacity and has a Will at Public Trustee, can request a copy of the customer’s Will. In such cases medical evidence that the customer has lost their mental capacity will be required.
Customers who have an EPA in place, and still have the mental capacity to do so, may request in writing that we send a copy of their EPA to an interested third party, such as their doctor, a family member, and/or a social worker. The request must include the customer’s date of birth and their original signature, which will need to be verified against the signature on their EPA. Medical evidence that the person still has the mental capacity to make the request may be required.
Executor Services Customers
Public Trustee manages the estate of deceased persons when either the deceased person has requested it in their Will or due to the application of the law of intestacy (i.e. where a person has died without a Will).
From time to time we will receive written and verbal requests for information about one of these estates. We are only able to release information about a deceased estate to the beneficiaries of that particular estate, or to a solicitor who either acts on behalf of one of the beneficiaries or who acts for other interested parties of the estate.
We may be able to release information about the estate to other third parties, but we will need the written consent of the beneficiaries of the customer’s Will.
Personal Financial Administration Customers
There may be certain people who have a key role in assisting us to manage one of our customer’s financial and legal affairs, and who are therefore able to access that customer’s personal information. These people have most likely been appointed through a Court protection order or SACAT administration order to assist us in managing a protected person’s affairs.
If a person has been named in an order as having one or more of the following roles, then they are able to access the information held at Public Trustee about a protected person.
- Persons named in SACAT order
SACAT frequently names a person, or persons, in the administration order to communicate with Public Trustee to ensure the needs of an individual protected person are met. This is a specific role to ensure that the protected person receives everything they need for their proper care and protection.
To successfully fulfil their role, this person may require information and documentation about the protected person from us, and we are required to provide that information.
- Receivers of Financial Information
SACAT administration orders sometimes appoint one or more people as receivers of financial information in relation to a protected person. Receivers of financial information are generally provided with statements about the protected person’s financial affairs each quarter. We are able to discuss the financial affairs of protected persons with receivers of financial information, and they are also able exchange information and documents with us.
The following people/organisations may be able to access a protected person’s information, but Public Trustee reserves the right to decide whether it is necessary and appropriate to release to them any information regarding the affairs of a protected person.
- Family Members
Unless family members are appointed as a person to communicate with Public Trustee or as receivers of financial information, we are generally unable to provide information or documents to them. This is especially the case if there is family conflict which may include allegations of misappropriation of the funds belonging to the protected person.
Family members may provide us with information that might assist in the management of a protected person’s financial affairs, and we will ensure this information is recorded appropriately.
We will not provide information to one family member which has been provided to us by another family member unless it is with the consent of that family member.
- Third Parties or Interested Parties
We will not disclose information to third parties about a customer’s financial and legal affairs, unless it is appropriate to do so. For example, if a solicitor is engaged or appointed to act on behalf of a protected person then they will require appropriate information to enable them to fulfil their role.
No information will be provided by Public Trustee to a contractor or provider of services or goods. This is the case even when we have engaged a contractor or purchased goods on behalf of the customer. The only exception is information about the customer that is essential to the services or goods being provided or delivered or the contractor completing their work, for example a tradesperson needs to know the address of the customer’s home in order to carry out their services.
Public Trustee has a number of written information protocols with other advocacy organisations, for example the Disability & Complaints Service of South Australia Inc. (DACSSA) that allows for the transfer of some information about mutual customers. If a request for information is received from one of the advocacy organisations in relation to a mutual customer, Public Trustee will consider it on a case by case basis.
Public Trustee is required to co-operate with any requests from the State or Federal Police for information about customers.