Recording someone without their consent as a social worker (NSW)?

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31 May 2021
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Hi,

My son is a social worker (alcohol and other drugs) who works with vulnerable people. Ever since the #metoo movement, he has become increasingly anxious about false accusations and has talked about recording his work day with his phone as potential evidence for if he is falsely accused by someone. Obviously this raises ethical and possible legal issues. I was just wondering if anyone could provide any advice on the consequences of this? I noticed that in the legislation, it mentions that you are allowed to record people if you don't let anyone listen to the recording. Would this still hold true if he was working with people in a professional capacity? Also could there be any non-legal consequences (i.e- could he be fired for this by his employer?) He hasn't actually done any of this. It is just something he has been thinking about. I thought I would get advice for him to let him know what the consequences might be if he proceeds. Thank-you for any help you might provide.
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
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I'm a teacher. Thought about this but there are more problems than solutions. No consent? Hmm. Didn't ask the boss about the policy? Did it on the quiet? Hmm. Are you a pervert, pedophile, sicko?
We can't take photos of kids at sporting events, for example without parental consent.
Sort version. Don't do it.
 

Jaywoo220

Well-Known Member
11 November 2019
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With their consent, yes.

Without it NO!

Even with consent, you could be breaching company policies etc.

Too many possible negative outcomes.
 

Tim W

Lawyer
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28 April 2014
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You'd never realistically argue that AODs could give consent regardless.
There are two heads of rule in play.
The first is Surveillance Devices legislation. This applies to recordings and footahe that he makes off his own bat.
In short and simple, no he should not do this. Doing so can be an offence.

The other is Workplace Surveillance legislation. This applies to technology installed in a workplace by the employer.
This is a better path, but requires a degree of management courage not often found in human services providers
 

Atticus

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6 February 2019
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My son is a social worker (alcohol and other drugs) who works with vulnerable people. Ever since the #metoo movement, he has become increasingly anxious about false accusations
Perhaps an alternative way for your son to manage his anxiety is for him to keep a diary of his visits involving people of concern, ie, those that he fears may potentially make false accusations.

The diary should note dates & times of visits, any other people that were present, as well as dialogue that he thought inappropriate or odd. It should not be shared with anybody else. It's just a kind of written record of events if you like. May come in handy in case an accusation is made.
 

Jaywoo220

Well-Known Member
11 November 2019
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When I went to see a provisional professional once, they recorded it, apparently for feedback from their supervisor.
 
31 May 2021
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Thank-you for the feedback. I have spoken to him and he is going to use the diary idea. This seems to be safest. Just out of curiosity, I thought he would be covered by this line in the legislation?

"The recording of the conversation is not made for the purpose of communicating or publishing the conversation, or a report of the conversation, to persons who are not parties to the conversation; "

The only other person that would listen to the conversation would be the police if he was accused. Do the police count as a person not party to the conversation?
 

Atticus

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6 February 2019
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I thought he would be covered by this line in the legislation?

"The recording of the conversation is not made for the purpose of communicating or publishing the conversation, or a report of the conversation, to persons who are not parties to the conversation; "
It needs to be read in context with the section & act... So assuming your quote is Section 7 (3)(b)(ii) of the Surveillance Devices Act 2007, below is the whole section

SURVEILLANCE DEVICES ACT 2007 - SECT 7 Prohibition on installation, use and maintenance of listening devices

Take not of ALL of section 7(3) ... So it would only apply IF consent is given AND (i) or (ii) apply .... As @Tim W has noted, there may be a question as to whether such people could even give consent. Not the sort that would hold up anyway.
The only other person that would listen to the conversation would be the police if he was accused.
If he is ever accused of anything, your son should take his diary & see a lawyer BEFORE agreeing to talk to police.... Don't assume police would be acting impartially.... Any evidence or record of events should be guarded unless your legal representative thinks it will help HIS case.