Your right to privacy
You have a right to have your personal information kept private. The department is bound by strict confidentiality and secrecy provisions in social security, families, health, child support and disability services law. These provisions limit how the department uses your information and when and to whom it can be released. The department also has obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act).
What is privacy
The Privacy Act contains thirteen Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which regulate the way the department collects, stores, provides access to, uses and discloses personal information. The new APPs came into effect on 12 March 2014, and apply to public and private sector entities.
The Privacy Act provides you with a number of rights, including:
- you will generally be told what kind of information we are collecting and how we collect it
- you will generally be told why your personal information is being collected
- your personal information can only be collected for a lawful purpose
- you can ask to see what information is held about you and have it corrected if it is incorrect, out of date or incomplete (the Freedom of Information Act 1982 also covers this)
- your personal information must be stored securely and protected from interference or misuse
- you can make a complaint to the department about the way your personal information has been handled
Privacy notice for Express Plus mobile apps
The privacy notices outline how the department will manage your personal information in connection with the:
- Express Plus Medicare mobile app
- Express Plus Jobseekers, Students, Families and Seniors mobile apps
Tax File Numbers
If you give us your Tax File Number (TFN), we have an obligation to keep that information secure. Due to the sensitivity the department places on TFNs and the legal restraints on their use and disclosure, if you lose your TFN the department will not be able to provide it to you. In these circumstances you will have to ask the Australian Taxation Office for a copy of it. The department can only provide TFNs under strict conditions as authorised or required by law. In limited circumstances, the Australian Taxation Commissioner can be required by law to provide your TFN to the department.
Data-matching use of Tax File Numbers
The department is authorised to use TFN to facilitate the administration of social security, student assistance, youth allowance, child support and data-matching law. This can include using data to check the entitlements of people applying for services and payments. The Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 authorises certain agencies to compare the personal information they hold, including the TFNs of an individual, to ensure that tax, pensions and other payments are being paid correctly.
Collection of information
When we collect your personal information it must be reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of the department’s functions or activities.
The authority provided by the legislation we administer also allows us to collect your personal information.
In addition to requesting information from you, the department may also obtain information about you and your family from other government agencies and third parties.
Any personal information we received from a third party is treated the same as if we collect it.
Use of information
Your personal information will be used in accordance with the Privacy Act, and will not be used for any purpose other than that for which it was collected unless:
- it is authorised or required by law
- you have consented to the use
- the use meets one of the other exceptions in the Australian Privacy Principles
When your personal information is collected from you, you will usually be advised of its intended use at the point of collection. Your information may also be used by other services within the department, as authorised or required by law.
Disclosure of information
Your personal information will not be disclosed to any other person, body or agency unless:
- you give us permission
- it is authorised or required by law
- it meets one of the other exceptions in the Australian Privacy Principles
For more information about general privacy, you can go to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) website.
If you are not satisfied with how the department has handled your privacy concerns you can also contact the OAIC directly. The OAIC is independent of the department and has the power to investigate complaints about possible interferences with your privacy. Please note that it is usually best to contact the department first. While it is possible for the first contact to be with the OAIC, they will generally ask the department to conduct its own inquiry first and pass any findings on to the OAIC.