Dunedin mother 'unable to sleep' after DHB shares child's sexual abuse details

"I feel like I've failed my children... I'll never trust [the DHB] again."
"I feel like I've failed my children... I'll never trust [the DHB] again." Photo credit: File

A Dunedin mother has had her world destroyed after a nurse accidentally shared horrific details of her child's sexual abuse with a teacher.

One of her children has already self-harmed repeatedly, and she fears that if personal information is leaked it could lead to tragedy.

"I feel like I've failed my children... I'll never trust [the DHB] again," the woman told the Otago Daily Times last week.

The sensitive information had apparently been saved onto the computer desktop. From there it was mistakenly forwarded to a Porse childcare teacher via email.

The mother learned something had gone wrong when she was contacted by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) in December last year about a "sensitive information" privacy breach.

But she was only told just how serious this breach was last Monday, when the DHB sent the contents of the file to her.

It contained the names of her children, the schools they went to and a transcript of her discussing the abuse her child had gone through - something she says she had no idea was being taken down.

"It's mind-blowing. I can't describe it. I haven't slept in five days," she told the Otago Daily Times.

"I would never have disclosed information if they had said it was being recorded."

The SDHB has apologised, but is unable to assure her that the information hasn't been shared with other people.

"At the meeting they admitted it had been sitting on the desktop for 16 months and they had no idea how many times it had been sent out," she told the Otago Daily Times.

She's complained to the office of the Privacy Commissioner, and is considering taking the case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

If you have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, you could call the HELP support service.