Fact Sheet on Handling Personal Information
10 May 2010 at 3:08 pm
The Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis has released an information sheet that will help agencies and organisations better understand how to handle personal information during declared emergencies and disasters.
Curtis says that in times of emergencies and disasters, the Privacy Act allows information to be collected, used and disclosed for broadly permitted purposes.
Curtis says that the practical issues faced by agencies, the private sector and non-government organisations during events such as the Asian tsunami in December 2004, were a catalyst for the introduction of emergency provisions in the Privacy Act in 2006.
The Emergency Declaration provisions were used for the first time since their introduction during the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
The Privacy Commissione says this made sure that crucial coordination and recovery efforts were not hampered by any unnecessary concerns about handling personal information.
Following an emergency or disaster, there are generally two situations that may involve the handling of personal information:
- verifying the location and identity of those affected including those missing, injured or deceased, and
- giving longer term assistance like welfare, medical and other services to those affected.
Curtis says the Privacy Act is not a barrier in an emergency or disaster.
The information sheet is available at www.privacy.gov.au/materials/types/infosheets/view/7077.