Confidential child protection files on sale at Alice Springs tip shop

The department cannot say whether the risk of the loss of the files has been fully mitigated.

Dozens of confidential documents, including a child protection investigation and a child death file, have been found at the Alice Springs tip shop, in a major privacy breach involving the Northern Territory Families department.

The files relate to 33 clients and staff members of Territory Families dating back to 2009.

They were located in filing cabinets and pedestal drawers that had been accidentally sent to the Alice Springs waste management facility during an office relocation in April.

An internal investigation by Territory Families said there was no guarantee all of the files sent to the tip have been found.

The investigation also revealed the number of people affected by the breach is greater than the 46 clients, when parents, relatives, child protection notifiers, and staff members are added to the list.

The files relate to a range of issues, including court order records, a foster care assessment application, a remote family services file, staff supervision records, time sheets, and residential care weekly reports.

The internal investigation also found an inventory of items to be dumped wasn't prepared and, according to a retrospective list, nine of 12 filing cabinets disposed of hadn't been accounted for.

"The number of filing cabinets does not align with the numbers of metal cabinets retrieved from the transfer station at the Alice Springs Waste Management Centre," the report said.

Later on Tuesday afternoon Territory Families said it had since located the missing nine cabinets.

Territory Families is contacting every person identified in the files to outline the situation and to provide information about making complaints to the Information Commissioner.

"Territory Families apologises for any concern this may have caused," the department said in a statement.

It was first alerted to the breach after a member of the public was perusing a cabinet at the Rediscovery Centre on Sunday, April 23.

The person immediately alerted staff about the contents, and the cabinet was removed from sale.

Territory Families was notified the following day, when staff began the process of containing the breach.

On each of three occasions to the tip, they located more files, but Territory Families is still not sure if everything has been retrieved.

"It is not possible to affirm that the risk associated with the loss of client information has been fully mitigated," the department's internal investigation found.

Territory Families said the Information Commissioner was notified about the breach on the same day it became aware of the situation.

Source : http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/confident

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