The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) can investigate privacy complaints from individuals about Australian and Norfolk Island Government agencies, and private sector organisations covered by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act). You can also make a complaint to the OAIC about the handling of your personal information by ACT public sector agencies under the Information Privacy Act 2014 (ACT).
Before you can lodge a complaint with the OAIC, you will generally need to complain directly to the agency or organisation you are complaining about and allow 30 days for it to respond. If you do not receive a response (after 30 days), or you are dissatisfied with the response, you may then complain to the OAIC.
Complaints to the OAIC must be made in writing. Our preference is for you to use the online Privacy Complaint form if at all possible. This requires you to have Adobe Reader 9.3 or later on your computer. For technical reasons these forms are hosted for the OAIC by the Australian Government on the Australian Business Account portal. When you complete and submit a form your information is not accessible to anyone other than the OAIC. Simply select the "Use a blank form and keep your own records" option and then complete the form. If you do not have Adobe Reader you can download a copy of the form in Microsoft Word104.5 KB.
If you need help lodging a complaint, you can call the OAIC Enquiries Line. We can receive privacy complaints through:
- the online Privacy Complaint form
- by mail (If you have concerns about postal security, you may wish to consider sending your complaint by registered mail)
- by fax
- by email (note: email that is not encrypted can be copied or tracked).
See our Contact us page for further information.
Your personal information
Use and disclosure of your information
We will use the information you have provided to assess your complaint, conduct the investigation and conciliate. If the OAIC makes inquiries into or investigates your complaint, we will usually disclose the information you give us, including a copy of your complaint, to the entity you have complained about (the respondent). We may also disclose your information to others who have information relevant to your complaint, if necessary. If we think we may need to disclose your information to an overseas entity to handle your complaint, we will discuss this with you first.
In case of a challenge to a decision by the OAIC, we may need to disclose some information to a review body, for example a court or tribunal.
Collection of your information
We may need to collect further information from you in order to investigate your complaint. If you do not provide this information to the OAIC, it may affect how we handle your complaint. In some circumstances, it may mean we decide not to investigate your complaint further.
We will usually collect information about you from the respondent. We may also collect information about you from others if they have information relevant to your complaint.
Accessing your information
If you would like to access to the information about you that the OAIC holds, please contact the enquiries line. More information is available on the Access our information page on our website.
How much does it cost to lodge a complaint?
It is free to lodge a complaint with the OAIC.
You do not need to be represented by a lawyer to make a complaint about your privacy. However, if you do decide to hire a lawyer, you must pay for the lawyer yourself.
What you should include with your complaint
Your complaint should include:
- the name of the agency or organisation involved
- a brief description of your privacy problem
- any action the agency or organisation has taken to fix the problem
- copies of any relevant documents, including copies of your complaint to the agency or organisation, and its response
- if your complaint involves credit reporting, you should include a copy of your credit file.
Note: Where there has been an interference with the privacy of a number of individuals, one individual may make a complaint on behalf of the group. This is called a 'representative complaint'. To make a representative complaint, the individual does not need the consent of the group members. For more information about making a representative complaint, you can call the OAIC Enquiries Line.