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Print version: Counselling Notes Protect factsheet(PDF, 78KB)
The Counselling Notes Protect (CNP) service is a new free legal service being delivered by Legal Aid Queensland in partnership with Women’s Legal Service. CNP provides advice, assistance and representation under a new Queensland law, which protects the counselling records of victims of sexual assault or alleged sexual assault from being used in some courts.
The CNP service can help when:
You can get free legal advice and representation by calling the CNP services at:
The new law applies to criminal and civil court proceedings that started on or after 1 December 2017, even if the sexual assault offence happened before this date. The new law also applies to domestic violence court proceedings.
If criminal or civil court proceedings were started before 1 December 2017, it is still important to get legal advice about any legal options you may have to protect your counselling notes from being used in the court.
There are a broad range of activities considered to be counselling which may be protected by the new law. These include when a counsellor:
A counsellor is a person who has undertaken training, is undertaking study, or has experience relevant to the counselling process, and provides counselling. It doesn’t matter if the person is a paid counsellor or a volunteer counsellor. Your doctor may even be considered a counsellor.
Protected counselling records may include oral or written records, notes, or other types of documents. These records are made between a counsellor and either the counselled person or the counselled person’s parent, carer or support person. The records can be about the counselling that you have had either before or after the sexual assault.
The legal protection may cover notes and/or records made by sexual assault counsellors, domestic violence counsellors or support services, healthcare professionals, psychologists and doctors.
Under the new laws, your counselling records are protected from being available during a court case, unless you or the court gives permission for your records to be produced. The court’s permission is also required before issuing a subpoena to obtain a copy of your counselling records. A subpoena is a court order that requires someone to give documents to the court.
You do not have to give a copy of your counselling records to the police or a prosecutor.
You do not have to consent to your counselling records being given to the police or a prosecutor.
You are entitled to obtain independent legal advice about your rights.
If you want to consent to all or some of your counselling records being made available to the police or a prosecutor, you should get independent legal advice from a lawyer first.
If you consent to the police or a prosecutor having your counselling records, it may be difficult to withdraw your consent if you change your mind later.