Villamanta and you

Your rights and Villamanta

Villamanta is committed to providing the best possible service to its clients and to making sure that Victorians with a disability know about the law, and use the law, to get their rights. We are also committed to providing services in a way that meets our responsibilities under the Disability Services Act 1986. Here you can read about some of the general rights that you have as someone using our services, and the things that you are entitled to expect of us. The Disability Services Act 1986 sets out standards that must be met by organisations that provide services to people who have a disability. These standards mean that Villamanta must:

Be there for people who need us most;

Work with you so you get the service you need and want;

Give you choices about what can happen and let you make your own decision about what you want us to do;

Keep information you give us confidential and protect your privacy;

Support and encourage you to be involved in general community issues and to use the same services other people use;

Treat you fairly and with respect and not discriminate against you;

Give you the opportunity to complain or to tell us how you feel if you are not happy with decisions we make, or with the way in which our service is provided;

Make sure you have the chance to be involved in making decisions about how our service works and what we do.

Below are other rights you can expect from Villamanta

An accessible service

A service that is relevant to your needs

Decision making and choice

Privacy and Confidentiality

Record Keeping

Avoiding conflict of interest

Complaints and Grievances

 

An accessible service

When you contact Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service our first job is to check if we are the right service for you. Villamanta is funded to provide certain types of services. If we cannot give you the service that you need, we will try to find someone who can.

If the service that you want from Villamanta is something we are funded to do, and it is something that we have the skills and resources to do, we will work with you to try and get what you want. If at any time you want us to stop working for you, we will. We will also try to help you to find someone else to assist you if we cannot. When you agree we have got you what you want, or we believe that we have gone as far as we can to get you what you want, we will close your file. You can have a copy of your file at any time. If you contact us again about a new problem we may be able to open a new file for you.

We will not discriminate against you because of your disability, whether you are female or male,or because of your age or the country or culture you are from, or your language or religion. However, if you have an intellectual disability, we will usually give you priority over people who do not have an intellectual disability because that is what Villamanta is funded to do.

A service that is relevant to your needs

If you want advice or legal assistance, a worker at Villamanta will:

Listen to you, and where possible we will give you advice, information or help based on the things you tell us.

Help you with what we know about the law and how it can be used to work out your problem.

If what you want is difficult or impossible to get, we will tell you.

Talk with you about other things that could happen, as well as how long it might take to get a result.

Tell you how to get a second opinion if you want one, although you may have to pay for a second opinion from a private lawyer.

Give regular updates about how your case is going and we will ask you to make decisions about what to do as the case goes on.

If you contact us for community legal education, our community legal education worker will:

Talk with you about what you want. We will also talk about what sort of people would attend the session, and the sorts of things they want information about.

Plan our community legal education session to try and give you what you want.

If you contact us about a policy or law reform issue, we will:

Talk with you about what the issue means to you, or why you think it is important.

Ask you what sorts of things you would like to see done about it.

If it is difficult for you to talk to us over the phone, we will do our best to arrange somewhere to meet with you in person, or we will set up some other way of communicating with you. You can have anyone else with you as support when you contact us. If you do not know a suitable support person we will try to help you find someone.

 

Decision making and choice

When we give you information, advice or legal assistance, we will tell you about the different ways you can go to deal with your problem. We will explain the risks and benefits of the options we give you. Based on what you have told us, we will give you our professional opinion about what action is most likely to get you what you want. We will not take any action on a legal matter unless you or your representative tells us to do so.

 

Confidentiality

The rules about confidentiality cover all the information you give anyone at Villamanta about a problem you have. If you get legal advice or legal assistance from Villamanta, you have a legal right to confidentiality. Any information a Villamanta worker gets from you will not be given to anyone else unless:

We ask you first and you agree to it. You don’t have to agree to the release of information but if you do we will usually ask you or your representative to sign a form to show you have agreed to the release of this information;

A worker at Villamanta needs to talk to another worker, lawyer or barrister in order to give you better advice or assistance;

A court has ordered the lawyer or worker to break confidentiality.

 

Privacy

The rules about privacy cover any information we have about you, including information that might have come from other people and information that is not about a legal problem. Everyone who contacts us has a right to privacy. We will not give anyone else information about you that they do not need to know. To help protect your confidentiality and privacy, we will:

Try to limit the number of Villamanta workers you have to deal with;

Make sure that, if you contact us, you can talk to your worker in private;

If you are on our mailing list or membership list, we will not give information about you without first getting your permission;

Make sure that the statistics we keep do not identify anyone who has contacted us;

Only get information from you or about you that is necessary for us to provide a proper service to you or tell the Government who funds us what they need to know to make sure we are doing our job properly. This information includes statistics about things like the age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, postcode and the disability of the people who contact us.(It does not include your name, address or telephone number).

 

Record keeping

A written record is kept every time you contact Villamanta about something different. This record contains two types of information:

The first is about you (unless you want to remain anonymous) and includes basic information about the reason you have contacted us, your age, your ethnicity and your occupation. This information is put into a computer database so that we can use the information to help with the work we do to advance the rights of people who have a disability.

The second type of information is about what you wanted and what we did to help you. This information is filed for reference only and kept in a locked safe place. We also have computer databases that list members of Villamanta and people who get our Newsletter and mailing lists for specific campaign activities. If you have contacted Villamanta, you have the right to see and have a copy of the information we have about you. If you are on one of our databases you have the right to have your name removed. If someone at Villamanta has done legal work for you, they will have opened a file containing your information. This means:

 

The file will be opened in your name and have a record number;

If you have more than one legal problem, you will have a separate file for each problem;

The file will record all relevant information about your legal problem;

The file will be kept in a safe place;

When the legal work is finished, the file will be closed;

You will be told when your file has been closed;

You have the right to look at and get a copy of your file at any time;

 

Avoiding conflict of interest

A conflict of interest arises if meeting the needs of one person, or of a group of people, is likely to lead to us compromising the needs or interests of someone else to whom we also have a commitment. For this reason, we will:

Not give legal advice or assistance to people who are on opposite sides of an argument;

Not give legal advice, legal assistance, or community legal education to someone who does not have a disability if we think they might use that advice, assistance or information in a way that could be damaging to the rights of someone who has a disability;

Not give legal advice to people or organisations providing services for people who have a disability if there is any chance that the people with disabilities who use that service might want legal advice or assistance in relation to the same issue;

Always make every attempt to talk with the person who has a disability even when someone who says that they are speaking on behalf of a person who has a disability makes the first contact to Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service.

If two or more people with a disability are having a dispute with each other, we will provide legal advice or legal assistance to the person who contacts us first. If you contact us and we believe that there would be a conflict of interest for us to work for you, we will tell you that we believe we have a conflict of interest. If we cannot help you we will try to assist you to find you another organisation or person to help you.

 

Complaints

Complaints and grievances

If you are not happy with how Villamanta does its job, or about the decisions we make, we want you to tell us. We will:

Listen to you and take your complaint seriously;

Encourage you to have the support of an independent advocate if that is what you want;

Not discriminate against you because you have made a complaint;

Accept and deal with the complaint regardless of how you let us know about it;

Deal with the complaint quickly;

Make sure the complaint is investigated;

Tell you about other independent places you can complain to, including:

 

The Legal Ombudsmen;

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service;

The Law Institute;

The Office of the Public Advocate;

The Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services;

Other disability advocacy services;

Other community legal centres.

Let you decide whether it will be investigated by:

 

Someone at Villamanta; or

Someone independent of Villamanta.

Tell you the results of any Villamanta investigation and what is going to happen;

Tell you what other choices you have if you are not happy with the result.:

 

Anonymous complaints

If you want to complain about Villamanta and you do not want to tell us your name, you do not have to tell us your name, unless:

You have made a serious allegation against a Villamanta worker - under the principles of ‘natural justice’, any person has the right to know who is making allegations against them, and what those allegations are; or

The only way we can deal with the complaint is for us to know who you are.

 

Complaints process

If you want to complain about Villamanta you can choose the process to be followed. You can talk to any of the workers at Villamanta or the Executive Officer. It is the Executive Officer’s job to listen to complaints and try to sort them out. If you do not want to talk to the Executive Officer, you can contact the Chair of the Committee of Management. Any worker at Villamanta will tell you how to contact the Chair. You can send a letter to the Chair at Villamanta. If the envelope has "Private and Confidential" on it, staff will not open it. When Villamanta becomes aware of your complaint:

Within seven days we will give you a copy of our Complaints Policy, and we will explain your rights;

Within fourteen days we will organise a meeting with you to talk about it further. This meeting will be between you and the representative from Villamanta you agree to talk with. You will be able to bring an independent support person to the meeting.

If the problem cannot be sorted out at this meeting, you can choose what to do next and how to have your complaint investigated. You can also choose who you want to investigate the complaint.

If you choose to have someone from Villamanta investigate the complaint, we will carry out the investigation as quickly as possible, but always within a month, unless there are exceptional circumstances that would mean that this would not be possible.

We will let you know, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation when it is completed.

We will also offer to meet with you once the investigation is complete, to explain what is going to happen about the issues raised in the complaint.

If you are not happy with the investigation, or any of its outcomes, we will talk about this with you and remind you that you can have the complaint investigated further by someone independent of Villamanta. We will give you the names and contact details for independent organisations that may be able to investigate the complaint. The independent organisations are listed above under Complaints and Grievances.