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Privacy FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on this page

General privacy questions

Individual rights

Privacy complaints and incidents

Privacy related terms

You can also visit our privacy hub, or read the specific Privacy Policies for members of the public, health practitioners or employees and stakeholders.

General privacy questions

What is personal (including sensitive) information?

Personal information is defined as information or an opinion 'about an individual' that is 'reasonably identifiable'. For example, information might include an individual's:

  • name
  • contact details, such as an address, postcode, email address, phone number
  • date of birth
  • demographics, such as age, sex, and location

Sensitive information is a subset of personal information that includes (among other things) information or an opinion about an individual’s:

  • racial or ethnic origin
  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • criminal record
  • sexual orientation or practices
  • health or genetic information
  • some aspects of biometric information


What is health information?

Health information is any sensitive information (a subset of personal information) about your health or disability. It includes information or opinion about your illness, injury or disability, and may include:

  • notes of your symptoms or diagnosis
  • information about a health service you’ve have received, will receive, or wish to receive
  • specialist reports and test results
  • prescriptions and other pharmaceutical purchases
  • your wishes about potential organ donation
  • appointment and billing details
  • any other personal information about you when a health provider collects it


Can I remain anonymous when using Healthdirect Australia's services?

Healthdirect Australia (Healthdirect) captures a minimum amount of personal information for your safety and the nurses who answer those calls. It also captures this information to comply with our obligations in relation to the collection and management of health records.

Where possible in the delivery of our services, Healthdirect provides you with the option of interacting with us anonymously, for example, by using the Symptom Checker application on our website.

The healthdirect helpline, however, is unable to be offered anonymously. You can choose to withhold your identity by using a pseudonym. A pseudonym is a name, term or descriptor, like a nickname or an alias, that is different to a person's actual name. The use of a pseudonym does not mean that you cannot be identified later on if it is required, but it will mean that your identity is not known within our system.

If you do not wish to have your identity disclosed, some of the services we offer may be restricted or there may be limitations on the service that we can provide to you. For example, the GP Helpline service is a call-back service, and therefore we need to identify the member of the public to provide the service.


When does Healthdirect Australia delete my data?

Healthdirect is obligated to delete your health records after a certain time prescribed in health legislation. Within this timeframe, there are limited circumstances in which a health record containing personal and sensitive information about you, is deleted. For records that are not considered a health record, Healthdirect is obligated to destroy your personal information or ensure it is de-identified when it is no longer needed for any other purpose.

The Privacy Act also currently does not provide individuals with a right to ‘delete’ their information. This, however, may change, and Healthdirect will always consider your request for deletion, if raised. Please refer to the question 'Can I delete my information?' below.


Individual rights

What are my rights in relation to accessing or correcting my information?

Under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) you may request access or ask to correct your personal information.

  • A request for access refers to requests made in relation to a copy of your personal and/or health information.
  • A request for correction is made to correct personal information claimed to be faulty by making appropriate additions, deletions or alterations to that information.


What is the process of applying to access or correct my personal information with Healthdirect Australia?

A request for Access or Change may be made by completing and submitting the Healthdirect Personal Records Access or Change Request Form. Your completed application will need to be submitted with the required proof of certified identity to

Upon receiving a request, Healthdirect will verify your identity or the applicant’s (if you are not requesting your own information), and satisfy ourselves that the request has been made by the individual concerned, their legal representative or another person who is authorised to make a request on the individual's behalf.


What kind of information can be requested?

The most common requests we receive are for copies of call recordings and/or copies of previously issued information, for example, an encounter summary report or after-call care information. Please specify the dates (where possible) of your interactions with Healthdirect. Please also advise if there is some other type of information that you are requesting, and we will advise whether your request can be supported.


Can I delete my information?

Healthdirect has legal obligations to keep records of different types of interactions, such as health records. While we can still consider your request to delete your information, due to our obligations, there are very limited circumstances where your personal information can be erased from our systems. If you would like us to consider your request, please contact Although we may not be able to erase your information, we will review your request and advise you of the options available, where possible.


Is there a cost incurred with this application?

In most cases, there is no charge for a request; however, should your request require significant resources to locate, retrieve, process and copy, administration costs may apply. We will always advise you as soon as possible if there are costs associated with your application.


I have chosen not to disclose my identity to Healthdirect Australia. Can I still access my personal information?

The healthdirect service is not able to be offered anonymously. However you do have the option to withhold your identity and/or use a pseudonym when you interact with us. In these instances, we may not be able to locate or retrieve your personal information.


What if I can't provide identity (ID) documents?

There may be instances where ID documents cannot be supplied; for example, if you have called our Pregnancy, Birth and Baby service for your baby whose birth has not been registered yet. Please contact for further advice on what alternate documents may be provided.


Why am I being asked to provide 100 points of certified ID?

Healthdirect Australia collects highly sensitive personal and health information. We therefore take steps to verify the identity of the individual requesting their personal information to ensure that information is being provided to the right individual.

We also understand that you may be applying for personal and health information on behalf of someone, and so additional documents are requested to show that you are authorised to act on someone’s behalf, such as a birth certificate, or power of attorney. Your ID documents are held securely and will be destroyed 30 days following your last contact with us.


How long will it take to process my application?

Healthdirect aims to respond to all access and correction requests within a reasonable timeframe, usually 30 days. Please advise us on your application of any time requirements you may have, and we will try our best to accommodate, where possible.

Please note that Healthdirect is not an emergency response service, and that for some of our services we engage with service providers that may impact on processing times since searches need to be conducted on separate systems. We endeavour to support your request for information in a timely manner and appreciate your understanding.


How do I access the personal or health information that I have requested?

Healthdirect sends personal and health information via securely encrypted and password protected files. To access your records, you will need to have the relevant software installed to access zipped or PDF file formats. To enable access to your files, a password will be generated and sent via SMS to your nominated mobile phone number.


I have applied for my personal information, but Healthdirect Australia has advised that no records could be located. What does that mean?

Healthdirect works with a range of government service providers. While you may have interacted with us during this journey, it's possible that your information may have been collected by another health service provider.

It is also possible that you or a third party authorised to act on your behalf chose to interact with us anonymously or with a pseudonym, in which case your records may not be able to be located.


Privacy complaints and incidents

How can I make a complaint on how my information has been managed?

We treat privacy complaints as a matter of priority and will thoroughly investigate your privacy concerns. Please direct your enquiry to in the first instance. Your matter will be escalated for urgent review.


How can I provide feedback on Healthdirect Australia’s privacy processes?

We welcome all opportunities to review your feedback. Please contact our Customer Support Team via


Privacy related terms

Health alert line

An inbound call service that is set up by Healthdirect, in conjunction with our government funding providers, for the provision of advice and information to members of the public in relation to a public health matter.


An individual or organisation with an interest or concern in how Healthdirect conducts its business.

Data partner or publisher

An organisation that has entered a formal relationship with the NHSD to enable the supply of data on a regular basis to maintain the quality of information in the NHSD.

Data client

An organisation that has entered a formal relationship with the NHSD to be able to access NHSD content, for specific authorised use.

Need more information?

Visit our privacy hub, or read the specific Privacy Policies for members of the public, health practitioners or employees and stakeholders.


Last reviewed: May 2024

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Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.