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.
We are bound by strict confidentiality and secrecy provisions in social security, families, health, child support and disability services law. These provisions limit how we use your information and when and to whom it can be released. We also have obligations under the Privacy Act 1988.
What is privacy
The Privacy Act contains 13 Australian Privacy Principles which regulate the way we collect, store, provide access to, use and disclose personal information. The new Principles came into effect on 12 March 2014, and apply to public and private sector entities.
The Privacy Act provides you with rights, including:
- being told generally what kind of information we are collecting and how we collect it
- being told generally why your personal information is being collected
- your personal information can only be collected for a lawful purpose
- finding out what information we hold about you and have it corrected if it is incorrect, out of date or incomplete, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 also supports this
- providing that your personal information must be stored securely and protected from interference or misuse
You can make a complaint to us about the way your personal information has been handled.
If you give us your Tax File Number (TFN), we have an obligation to keep that information secure. Due to the sensitivity we place on TFNs and the legal restraints on their use and disclosure, if you lose your TFN we will not be able to provide it to you. You will have to ask the Australian Taxation Office for a copy of it. We 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 us.
Data matching use of Tax File Numbers
We are 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, 1 or more of our 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, we may also obtain information about you and your family from other government agencies and third parties.
Any personal information we receive from a third party is treated the same as if you provided it.
Use of information
Your personal information will be used in accordance with the Privacy Act. It will not be used for any purpose other than why it was collected. We may use your personal information if:
- 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, you will usually be advised of its intended use at the point of collection. Your information may also be used by our other services, as authorised or required by law.
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
The privacy notices outline how we will manage your personal information in connection with the:
- Express Plus Medicare mobile app
- Express Plus Jobseekers, Students, Families and Seniors mobile apps
- Centrelink online accounts - Privacy and security
- Medicare online account
- Child Support online accounts terms and conditions - Your privacy
- Healthcare Identifiers Service
Read more about general privacy, on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) website.
If you are not satisfied with how we have handled your privacy concerns you can also contact the OAIC directly. The OAIC is independent to us and has the power to investigate complaints about possible interferences with your privacy. It is usually best to contact us first. While it is possible for the first contact to be with the OAIC, they will generally ask us to conduct our own inquiry first and pass any findings on to the OAIC.