Laws relating to surveillance cameras and devices operate at the state and federal level. In WA the applicable Acts are the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA), as well as statutory obligations arising under occupational health & safety legislation.
It is an offence under the Surveillance Devices Act to install, use or maintain:
- listening devices to record or listen to a private conversation;
- optical surveillance devices to record visually or observe a private activity; and
- in circumstances where not all of the principal parties to the private conversation or activity have given their consent to be recorded, observed or listened to.
Activities recorded by a camera installed in a client’s home will likely be considered a private activity as it occurs in a private residence where parties would not ordinarily be observed.
Providers have a duty to provide and maintain a safe working environment for staff, including workplace privacy as far as practicable. The impact that the use of cameras may have on staff and specifically whether the use of cameras constitutes a risk, hazard or potential breach of workplace privacy, must be considered.
- If aware that a camera is installed in a client’s home, all staff attending the home should be made aware and provide their consent to being monitored/recorded by the camera;
- If a staff member declines to consent, they should not be rostered to provide care to that client;
- Address the issue of whether cameras are used in the home in the admission process with clients and their families and discuss when the camera is on and if it is recording etc;
- Develop a written policy for staff and clients about the use of cameras in homes, including the rights and responsibilities of staff.
For further advice on this issue, please contact Panetta McGrath Lawyers on 9321 0522.