No records will be kept of any conversation that has been relayed through the NRS, except if it is required by law.
The only information kept by the NRS is as follows:
a full record of the conversation of calls to the 106 text emergency service, and
- dates, times, telephone numbers, the length of the call, NRS registration number and PIN (if applicable) for all other calls to the NRS.
Apart from the information above, when a relay call is completed the computer screen is cleared, removing all records of the conversation.
The personal information that you provide to us - for example, details in your caller profile - will not be given to any other organisation without your consent, unless:
- we are required or authorised to do so by law or under a Communications Alliance Code or our contract with the Australian Government or
- the information is required for us to effectively operate the NRS, for example to send out accounts for overseas calls. In such cases we will make sure that the arrangement is covered by a confidentiality agreement.
How am I protected as the caller?
The NRS is bound by a number of privacy laws, as well as its own privacy policies. In relation to confidentiality and privacy matters, the NRS must comply with:
- the Privacy Act 1988
- Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (in relation to emergency calls), and
- the National Relay Service contract with the Australian Government.
We have put policies and procedures into place to make sure your personal information is protected.
Specially trained staff
Relay officers and other NRS staff receive extensive and practical training about their role, required procedures and legal and ethical responsibilities. All relay officers and other NRS staff are required to sign a confidentiality agreement when they start work. Relay officers do not discuss the actual contents of particular conversations or messages of relay users in any way:
- except for disclosing information to supervisors for training purposes and improving customer service
- except when the information relates to a complaint against the relay officer or the NRS, or
- unless required by law.
If you are concerned about any privacy matters at the NRS, please contact us.
Security of your call
The NRS operates from a large well-secured call centre. A TTY call is as safe from interception as any fixed-line phone call, and internet relay calls are specially encrypted (similar to bank transaction websites) to provide greater security. See more about call security.
Can I discuss private information such as financial, medical or legal details through the NRS?
Many businesses, government agencies (eg the Australian Taxation Office) and service providers such as banks, insurance companies, doctors and lawyers use the NRS. They know that the NRS allows them to have private and confidential dealings with their clients or customers. This call confidentiality is important both to you and to the organisation you are having the conversation with.
The Privacy Act specifically exempts NRS relay officers from being considered third parties in a phone call for privacy purposes. This means that:
- businesses, government agencies and service providers do not need an NRS customer’s written or oral permission to collect, use or disclose the NRS customer’s personal information in the presence of, or with the assistance of, an NRS relay officer
- businesses, government agencies and service providers will not be breaching the Privacy Act by collecting, using or disclosing personal information with individuals through the NRS.
See this statement from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner about the privacy of relay calls.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has also published FAQs on the rights of NRS users to access businesses and services through the NRS.
If your call is refused
If any organisation ever refuses to accept your call through the relay service or claims that it cannot discuss information with you via the NRS – such as financial details and passwords – on the grounds of privacy, please contact us. We will seek to address the privacy issues with the organisation.