Your privacy rights and how the Victorian Government protects the privacy of your personal information
The Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 is a Victorian law that gives you privacy rights and protects the privacy of your personal information that is handled by:
- • Victorian government organisations
• Local councils, and
• Some private or community-based organisations providing services on behalf of the Victorian government.
What is ‘personal information’?
‘Personal information’ means recorded information or opinion about you.
Examples of personal information include a person’s name, sex, date of birth, address, financial details, marital status, and education and employment history.
Some personal information is classed as ‘sensitive information’. This is information about a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association or a trade union, sexual preferences or practices and criminal record. Generally your consent is needed if organisations need to collect sensitive information.
How the law protects your personal information
Victorian government organisations can only collect your personal information if it is necessary to do their work, for example in order for you to get your drivers licence, to pay council rates or to enrol in a government school.
The organisation must tell you:
- • Why they are asking for your information and what they are going to do with it
• What law, if any, allows them to ask for your information
• Who else will see your information
• What will happen if you don’t provide your information, and
• How you can see information that is about you, and correct it if it is wrong or needs updating.
Information about you should be kept accurate, complete and up-to-date.
Your personal information can only be used and disclosed for the reason it was collected, or for a related purpose you would reasonably expect. In some situations the law also allows your information to be used for other reasons, such as to protect your safety or for law enforcement purposes.
Organisations that collect your information must keep it safe and make sure it is not lost or misused.
Your privacy rights
It is important that you are aware of your privacy rights under the Privacy and Data Protection Act, and know what to do if you have a problem.
You have the right to:
- • Know why an organisation is asking for your information and what they are going to do with it
• Ask to see your own information and request corrections if necessary, and
• Make a complaint if you believe your personal information has been mishandled.
What can you do if you believe your personal information has been mishandled?
If you think that your personal information has been mishandled by an organisation covered by the Privacy and Data Protection Act, you should complain to them. Put your complaint in writing, giving as much detail as possible.
Put your complaint in writing, giving as much detail as possible.
If the organisation does not respond within approximately 30 days, or you are not satisfied with their response, you can complain to the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection. This must be in writing.
Your complaint should include:
- • How you can be contacted
• The name of the organisation
• A brief description of the problem and how the organisation has responded, and
• Copies of all relevant documents.
If you need further information or help, you can contact the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection. The Commissioner’s staff can:
- • Answer your questions and give you more information
• Help you put your complaint in writing
• Help you and the organisation to talk about the problem, and
• Put you in contact with another office that can help if needed.
There is no cost for advice and help. Free interpreting and translating services are used if needed. All enquiries are kept confidential.
You can help protect your own information
Your personal information is valuable. Always think about the best ways you can protect it.
You can ask if you are not sure why your information is being requested. It’s a good idea to read privacy policies to make sure you are comfortable with the way your personal information will be used, for example before filling out a form, registering or paying online, or downloading an app.
Have a PIN number on your phone. Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus software on your home computer and phone. The Australian Communications and Media Authority website http://www.acma.gov.au has information about using the Internet safely.
Always think about who you might be giving your information to. Be cautious about providing any personal details to people you don’t know by phone, fax, post, email or in person, unless you are sure the person is who they say they are. To lessen the risk of identity theft, always shred or tear up any documents before putting them in the rubbish bin. Have a lock on your mailbox.
Who else protects your privacy?
The Federal Privacy Act protects personal information that is collected and handled by Federal Government organisations, such as Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office, and some private organisations, such as banks and telecommunications providers.
For more information contact:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001 Australia
Local Call 1300 363 992
TTY 1800 620 241
Facsimile +61 2 9284 9666
The Health Records Act protects health information that is held by public and private health service providers in Victoria. This includes doctors, hospitals and pharmacists, as well as any other organisation that holds your health information, such as fitness centres and employers.
For more information contact:
Office of the Health Services Commissioner:
Level 26, 570 Bourke Street Melbourne Victoria 3000 Australia
Telephone Toll Free 1300 582 113
Publication date: November 2015
Please note that the contents of this information sheet are for general information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection does not guarantee or accept legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to the accuracy and reliability of the contents of this document. We encourage you to obtain independent legal advice as necessary.