When you have concerns about a service it is helpful to be well prepared before you raise the issue or make a complaint.
- Write down the details of what happened, as soon as possible, including any dates, times and names you can recall or talk with someone who can help you do this. Stick to the facts.
- Take your concerns directly to the organisation. You may choose to do this in writing so you have a record.
- If you meet with the organisation, ask a family member or friend to come with you for support.
- After a face-to-face meeting or phone conversation note down any decisions made or agreements reached and confirm these in writing with the people you met with.
- If the organisation is a health or disability organisation you can seek the support of an Advocate from the Health and Disability Advocacy Service - freephone 0800 555 050.
- If you are unable to resolve an issue with a government-funded organisation consider approaching the government department responsible for their funding.
Read the service specifications for Ministry of Health-funded disability support services online.
Rights to personal information under the Privacy Act
Personal information is any information that can identify you as an individual. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Your name
- Your address
- A picture of your face
- A record of your opinion and views
- Employment information
- Health records
- Financial information
Under the Privacy Act, agencies such as organisations and businesses must respect your personal information.
If you think an agency has interfered with your privacy, contact them first about the issue. If you can’t resolve the issue with the agency, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
Official Information is any information held by the Government, Ministers of the Crown, government departments and organisations, educational institutions, Boards of Trustees and public hospitals.
A full list of the organisations that you can request information from can be found in the Directory of Official Information, which is published by the Ministry of Justice every two years.
The Directory is available on the Ministry of Justice website. The principles of the Official Information Act 1982 mean that information must be made available unless a good reason exists under the Act for withholding it.
Making an information request is simple. Contact the organisation concerned and ask for the information. Be as specific as you can about what you are wanting. It is best to make the request in writing. You can ask for:
- Reasons for decisions made about you
- Internal policies
- Rules or guidelines
- Meeting agendas and minutes of public bodies, including those not open to the public
Requesting personal information about someone other than yourself is covered by the Official Information Act. Asking for personal information about yourself is covered by the Privacy Act 2020.
You can complain to the Ombudsman if:
- You are refused access to any information
- The person handling your request does not reply to you within 20 working days
- You are not happy with the length of an extended time limit
- You believe that you have been charged an unreasonable amount for the information
- You are not happy with the way the information has been made available
- You are unhappy with any conditions placed on the use of the information