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TGA advisory committee guidelines

Declarations of interests, managing conflicts of interests and confidentiality obligations, Version 1.9, August 2016

7 September 2016

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G. Obligations under the Deed in relation to confidentiality

Committee members will, on occasion, be provided with confidential material and by participating in committee business, and become aware of confidential information. Members must not use or disclose this material to anyone outside the committee (unless authorised to do so) and must treat this material with the utmost care and discretion and in accordance with terms of the Deed which they are required to sign. A committee member must not participate in committee business until the Deed has been completed.

'Confidential information' means any information or document made available to a member of a committee by the TGA that is by its nature confidential, is designated by the Commonwealth as confidential, or the member knows or ought to know is confidential. It does not, however, include information which is in the public domain or becomes public knowledge other than by a breach by a member of his or her obligations of confidentiality under the Deed.

By signing the Deed a member:

  • undertakes to keep secret and confidential all confidential information and not to directly or indirectly disclose it to any person, other than to another committee member or an officer of the Department of Health or where disclosure is approved in writing by the Commonwealth
  • agrees that where approval is given, to not disclose the information unless the other person has agreed to keep the information confidential and to comply with any conditions imposed by the Commonwealth
  • undertakes not to make use of any confidential information other than to fulfil their role as a member or where disclosure is required by court order or by statute
  • undertakes to return all confidential information to the Commonwealth on ceasing to be a member and to return or dispose of all confidential information as directed from time to time, at such times and in such manner as directed.

Unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information by a member may make him or her liable for prosecution under section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. The Commonwealth can also sue a member for any losses arising from a breach of the member's obligations under the Deed in relation to confidential information.

The secretariat will provide members with instructions about how confidential material should be handled and disposed of.

In order to minimise the risk of confidential information being disclosed:

  • agenda papers and other committee documents of a confidential nature will normally be provided in electronic form through access to a secure website; Govdex
  • members are asked not to save any committee documents of a confidential nature onto hard drives or, if that is not practical in particular circumstances, for the material to be deleted as soon as it is no longer needed for committee business
  • any USBs on which confidential committee documents or information is stored are to be returned to the secretariat after the relevant meeting
  • any hard copies of materials provided to members, or which members have printed, are to be held securely and returned to the TGA or destroyed by secure means.

Communication with the public and media

Neither the Chair nor other members should communicate publicly about committee business or about matters that have come to their knowledge as members of the committee unless expressly authorised to do so.

Members are advised that no contact is to be made with the media on committee or departmental matters and any approaches from the media are to be directed to the committee secretary. This does not prevent a member from speaking on behalf of their organisation or in a professional capacity.

However, members should take care not to speak or to give the impression of speaking, on behalf of the Department of Health, the TGA or the committee, unless authorised to do so. In this context, it is suggested that members explicitly state the capacity in which they are speaking. Members should also consider the appropriateness of providing comment where, for instance, in the circumstances or because of the subject matter, there is a risk that any comment will be (mis)interpreted as speaking on behalf of the TGA or as a member of the committee (irrespective of any disclaimers).

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