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Chapter Four — Communication and engagement


  1. Overview
  2. International and regional engagement
  3. Community Attitudes to Privacy survey
  4. Media
  5. Events
  6. Speeches
  7. Publications
  8. Website
  9. Social media
  10. Networks and Committees


The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) had an active year promoting privacy, freedom of information (FOI) and information policy issuWes to Federal Government agencies, industry and consumer groups, and the general public.

A major milestone was the launch of the OAIC's new website that integrates the three functions of privacy, FOI and information policy. The new website enables all OAIC information to be accessed at the one site. It was launched on 5 June 2013 and is available at

A communications and education campaign about privacy law reform for public and private sector organisations and the community commenced in December 2012. Activities undertaken have included a dedicated privacy law reform page on the OAIC website, short videos, new publications, a public consultation process and regular engagement with stakeholders. The campaign will continue throughout 2013–14.

The OAIC again featured prominently in media coverage about privacy law reform, data breaches, technology and society, own motion investigations and FOI review decisions. The office coordinated the largest Privacy Awareness Week to date, and the Commissioners spoke at a large range of forums and conferences. The OAIC also distributed its largest number of e-newsletters.

The OAIC continued to collaborate internationally, hosting international delegations, providing secretariat support to the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum (APPA) and supporting the Privacy Commissioner in his role as an Executive Committee member of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

The OAIC was regularly contacted during the year by organisations and individuals for advice, assistance and guidance. There was frequent interaction between the OAIC and external contacts through our social media platforms and networks established by the OAIC for public and private sector information professionals.

 Feature: Privacy Awareness Week 2013

Now in its eighth year, Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an annual awareness campaign coordinated by members of the APPA Forum since 2006. PAW continues to be an important event to promote privacy rights and responsibilities.

The OAIC marked Privacy Awareness Week 2013 (28 April to 4 May) with a campaign that focussed on privacy law reform. The aim of the week was to educate businesses and Federal Government agencies about their obligations in the lead-up to new privacy laws commencing on 12 March 2014.

PAW was launched at an OAIC breakfast by the Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, MP. More than 190 privacy professionals gathered to hear from information security experts about what they must do to secure the personal information they hold about their clients and customers. The OAIC released a new Guide to information security: reasonable steps to protect personal information.

A record number of partners — 158 businesses, government agencies and community organisations — signed up to support PAW. The partners joined the OAIC in promoting privacy messages to the general community.

The OAIC also promoted privacy law reform through new resources that included posters, training materials, newsletter content and information for individuals, agencies, businesses and the not-for-profit sector.

Each year, the OAIC collaborates with other APPA members to produce an education product that is shared across the region. In 2013, the OAIC coordinated the production of an infographic that illustrated the importance of privacy across the Asia Pacific. The infographic was distributed in hard copy as well as on social media during PAW.

The Privacy Commissioner and Australian Information Commissioner participated in a number of private sector and public sector events that were held across the week.

Photograph of Australian Information Commissioner Prof. John McMillan at the launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2013.

Australian Information Commissioner Prof. John McMillan at the launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2013.

 International and regional engagement

International liaison

The OAIC increased its support and liaison with privacy and freedom of information authorities across the globe. The OAIC regularly responds to requests for advice and other assistance from international colleagues. This includes hosting international delegations.

The Australian Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner met with the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) of Singapore in January 2013. The PDPC was set up to enforce Singapore's new Personal Data Protection Act as well as regulate Singapore's National Do Not Call Registry. The delegation visited the OAIC to learn more about Australia's privacy framework and to discuss implementation and enforcement issues. Later in the year, the Privacy Commissioner was invited to deliver the keynote address at the launch of the PDPC in Singapore on 15 May 2013.

The OAIC also hosted delegations from Malaysia's new Personal Data Protection Department, and the Central Information Commission of the Republic of Indonesia. The OAIC discussed the way in which the office was structured, staffing levels, complaint-handling processes and the OAIC work program.

Photograph of the Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim with the delegation from the Personal Data Protection Commission, Singapore.

The Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim with the delegation from the Personal Data Protection Commission, Singapore.

Association of Information Access Commissioners

The Association of Information Access Commissioners (AIAC) was established in 2010 by the statutory officers in each Australian jurisdiction responsible for FOI oversight, and development of information policy. The membership of the AIAC comprises Information Commissioners (Federal, NSW, NT, Queensland and WA), the Federal Freedom of Information Commissioner, the Queensland Right to Information Commissioner, the Victorian Freedom of Information Commissioner and the Ombudsman from other state jurisdictions. During 2012–13, the association met twice; once in August 2012 and once in March 2013.

The AIAC aims to exchange information and experience between offices about the exercise of oversight responsibilities, and to promote best practice and consistency in information access policies and laws. Matters discussed at meetings included case law developments, work practices for handling complaints and reviews, audit activity, staff training, public awareness activities, national regulatory reform, and international links and developments.

Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities

The OAIC continued to be actively involved in the APPA Forum by providing secretariat services and setting up and maintaining a new Forum website available at

In 2012–13, the APPA membership expanded to 16 with two new member authorities — the National Authority for Data Protection, Peru, and the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, Colombia.

In December 2012, members met in San Francisco, United States for the 38th APPA Forum. At the meeting, members discussed a range of topics including global privacy developments and enforcement, cross-border interoperability, online tracking, and mobile phone privacy. Members also had the opportunity to attend both Facebook and Apple headquarters to discuss privacy issues.

In October 2012, a number of APPA members wrote to the European Union's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party in support of its recommendations to Google about the transparency of Google's privacy policy. This followed work undertaken by the APPA Technology Working Group to assess Google's Privacy Policies on behalf of APPA members.

Privacy Authorities Australia

Privacy Authorities Australia (PAA) is a group of Australian privacy authorities that meets regularly to promote best practice and consistency of privacy policies and laws.

PAA membership includes the OAIC, privacy representatives from all states and territories, and the Attorney-General's Department as the Australian Government department responsible for privacy policy and advice. The OAIC hosted a PAA meeting in Sydney in May 2013. Topics discussed included national regulatory schemes, emerging technologies, the Document Verification Service and 'Big Data'.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Thirteen privacy enforcement authorities from around the world, including Australia, joined forces to launch the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) in September 2010. GPEN is designed to facilitate cross-border cooperation in the enforcement of privacy laws. As at 30 June 2013, GPEN had 31 member authorities, including 25 nations, five subnational authorities, and the European Union.

GPEN builds on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Recommendation on Privacy Law Enforcement Co-operation (2007), which recognised the need for greater cooperation between privacy enforcement authorities in cross-border privacy matters. The Recommendation states that member countries should foster the establishment of an informal network of privacy enforcement authorities and other appropriate stakeholders to discuss the practical aspects of privacy law enforcement cooperation.

In May 2013, the OAIC joined 18 other enforcement authorities from around the globe to participate in the first International Internet Privacy Sweep, an initiative of GPEN. The OAIC examined the 47 websites most used by Australians. Staff looked at each website's privacy policy to assess its accessibility, readability and content. The website privacy policies were also examined to see how they rated against the new transparency requirements under privacy law reform due to commence in March 2014. Results of the sweep will be released in late 2013.

More information about GPEN can be found at

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

In 2007, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies endorsed the APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder (the Pathfinder) to guide implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework.

The Cross-border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA) has been developed as part of the Pathfinder initiative, and provides a framework for privacy regulators to cooperate and seek information and advice from each other on cross-border enforcement matters.

The CPEA came into force in July 2010. The OAIC is one of the CPEA's co-administrators, and is jointly responsible for conducting eligibility checks on privacy enforcement authorities that wish to participate in the CPEA. As of 30 June 2013, 22 privacy regulatory bodies, were signed up to CPEA, representing eight economies.

The Pathfinder also involves the development and implementation of a Cross-border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. The system will provide guidance on the how the CBPR of businesses can meet the standards of the APEC Privacy Framework and be recognised across APEC economies. More information about CPEA can be found at

34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

The 34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) was hosted by the Personal Data Control and Regulatory Unit (URCDP) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in October 2012. The theme of the conference was 'Privacy and Technology in Balance'.

The ICDPPC adopted resolutions on a number of matters, including cloud computing, the future of privacy and the Uruguay Declaration on Profiling.

The Privacy Commissioner continued to hold his position on the Executive Committee of the ICDPPC. This role involved ensuring that the ICDDPC was suitably represented at other international privacy meetings throughout 2012–13.

Administrative Review Council

The Information Commissioner is an ex officio member of the Administrative Review Council under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (s 49(1)). Other ex officio members of the Council are the Commonwealth Ombudsman, President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Administrative support to the Council is provided by the Attorney-General's Department.

The Council published a report in September 2012 on Federal Judicial Review in Australia. The Information Commissioner was a member of the sub-committee that took a leading role in preparing the report.

The Council did not hold any meetings in 2012–13.

 Community Attitudes to Privacy survey

The OAIC launched its Community Attitudes to Privacy research on 13 June 2013. The survey explores changes in attitudes to privacy across a range of areas and considers new and emerging privacy issues associated with changes in technology.

The survey follows previous studies conducted by the former Office of the Privacy Commissioner in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The 2013 survey is being conducted by Wallis Strategic Market and Social Research on behalf of the OAIC, and involves 1000 people being asked to participate via landline and mobile numbers. The research is being sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank (Primary sponsor), Henry Davis York (Key sponsor), and McAfee (Sponsor). The results will be released in late 2013.


In 2012–13, the OAIC responded to 314 media enquiries — a 10% increase on the previous year.

Significant media interest was generated by the passing of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth), and the introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Privacy Alerts) Bill 2013.

Media interest was also generated during the year by high profile data breaches and release of investigation reports such as the OAIC's own motion investigation into the Department of Immigration and Citizenship FOI processing delays. While the majority of media enquiries related to privacy, the number of FOI-related enquiries also increased.

The OAIC Commissioners participated in a large number of interviews during the year across a range of media platforms including television, radio, print and online publications. The FOI Commissioner gave a media briefing to Adelaide-based journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The OAIC published 20 media releases in 2012–13.


The 30th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) was celebrated by the OAIC with an event at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra on 27 November 2012. The event was attended by over 130 people from public and private sector bodies as well as members of the public. Attendees heard from the Information Commissioner and the FOI Commissioner, as well as speakers from government, academia, the media and the private sector, on the history, development and importance of the FOI Act and open government in Australia.

Photograph of the FOI Commissioner, Dr James Popple at the event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Dr James Popple making a presentation at the 30th anniversary of the FOI Act.


The Commissioners delivered 59 speeches and presentations on a range of information-related issues. These speeches were delivered in a variety of forums, including national and international conferences and seminars. Speeches covered privacy law reform, open government, FOI reform and cultural change, information law and policy reform and the launch of reports and guidelines.

A list of all speeches given by Commissioners is in Appendix 6.


The OAIC released a record number of new publications during 2012–13. Major publications included:

Freedom of Information

  • Information Publication Scheme: Survey of Australian Government Agencies — Compliance with IPS obligations
  • FOI fact sheet 16 — Extensions of time
  • FOI agency resource 14 — Administrative access schemes
  • Updated FOI guidelines


  • Guide to information security: 'Reasonable steps' to protect personal information
  • Guide to information security — summary
  • Australian Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles — Comparison Guide
  • Australian Privacy Principles and National Privacy Principles — Comparison Guide
  • Australian Privacy Principles — a summary for APP entities
  • Privacy agency resource 2: Privacy Act reforms — Checklist for APP entities (agencies)
  • Privacy business resource 2: Privacy Act reforms — Checklist for APP entities (organisations)
  • Eight privacy fact sheets on a range of topics, including eHealth, Australian Privacy Principles and credit reporting

Information Policy

  • Open public sector information: from principles to practice
  • Open public sector information: government in transition

All OAIC publications can be accessed on the OAIC website.


The OAIC officially launched its new website on 5 June 2013. The website integrated the former Office of the Privacy Commissioner website and the OAIC website.

The new website provides a single platform for information about privacy, FOI and information policy. Prior to launch a substantial review of content from both websites was undertaken. This work is ongoing. Future development of the new website will include blogs, comment facilities, online forms and enhanced social media engagement.

The website was designed with a range of Australian Government policies and other web standards in mind, particularly the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0). WCAG 2.0 is Australian Government policy and ensures that web content is accessible by people with a range of disabilities. The website is designed to comply with WCAG 2.0 AA standard by December 2014.

 Social media

The OAIC uses social media, e-newsletters and other web 2.0 platforms to promote and inform the public about the work of the OAIC. In 2012–13, the OAIC increased the frequency with which social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) were used.


The OAIC greatly increased its use of Twitter during 2012–13. At 30 June, the OAIC had tweeted 429 times and re-tweeted 949 times. The OAIC's Twitter account had 1450 followers. This is a 44% increase from last year.


The OAIC produced a number of videos over 2012–13 that were hosted on YouTube. The most viewed video was about privacy law reform and had 1,498 views. The OAIC's YouTube channel had 3,383 views in total. This is an 88% increase from 2011–12.


The OAIC continued to use Facebook to support communication campaigns such as Privacy Awareness Week. In 2012–13, the OAIC's Facebook account had 1,543 individual views and gained a further 119 'likes', bringing the total to 188.


In addition to using social media, the OAIC also communicates with stakeholders through subscription based e-newsletters. In 2012–13, OAICnet had 4013 subscribers, a 13.5% increase from last year. OAICnet is an external communication platform for distributing email messages to stakeholders, media, and interested members of the public. In 2012–13, the OAIC launched a new HTML format for e-newsletters to improve reader experience.

 Networks and Committees

Information Contact Officer Network

The Information Contact Officer Network (ICON) is a network for FOI, privacy and information policy contact officers in Australian Government agencies. ICON also includes the Norfolk Island administration and, in relation to privacy, ACT Government agencies.

During 2012–13, ICON membership increased from 447 to 771, an increase of 72.4%. This dramatic increase demonstrates the value that agencies place on ICON and the information that it provides. Three ICON meetings were held this year: two meetings in Canberra and one in Sydney. The meetings are an important forum for information officers in government agencies to hear about and engage in the work of the OAIC. It also gives participants the opportunity to network and share knowledge with information professionals from other government agencies.

Topics discussed included agency compliance with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS), data breach notifications, privacy law reform, processing of FOI applications and Information Commissioner reviews. Guest speakers at ICON meetings included representatives from the Australian Taxation Office and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Privacy Connections

The Privacy Connections Network (PCN) is a network for privacy professionals in the private sector. Since its relaunch in 2011–12, the membership has grown as the introduction of new privacy laws gets closer. As at 30 June 2013, the network had 1,028 members. A new e-newsletter was launched in February 2013 to keep members up-to-date with new publications, public consultations and events. Seven editions of the e-newsletter were published during 2012–13.

Privacy Advisory Committee

The Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC), established by the Privacy Act (s 82), met on two occasions during 2012–13, once in November 2012 and once in May 2013. The PAC is chaired by the Information Commissioner and other members are appointed by the Governor-General. The PAC's role is to advise the Information Commissioner on matters relevant to his functions and to engage in and promote protection of individual privacy in the private sector, government and the community.

The PAC has six members in addition to the Chair. Ms Barbara Robertson and Mr Michael Kidd were re-appointed to the Committee in October 2012.

The Committee provided advice on a range of issues including privacy law reform, the development of the Community Attitudes to Privacy survey, de-identification, data breach notification, eHealth and PAW 2013.

A list of PAC members can be found in Appendix 7. Minutes of PAC meetings are published on the OAIC website.

Information Advisory Committee

The Information Advisory Committee (IAC), established by the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (s 27), met two times during 2012–13, once in November 2012 and once in May 2013. The IAC is chaired by the Information Commissioner; other members are appointed by the Minister. The IAC has 11 members in addition to the Chair. The IAC's role is to assist and advise the Information Commissioner in the performance of the information commissioner functions.

During 2012–13, Ms Su McCluskey was appointed to the Committee, after Ms Stephanie Foster's term expired.

The meetings discussed the OAIC's report Open public sector information: from principles to practice, the 2013 Information Policy Conference, the 30th anniversary of the FOI Act, Australia's membership of the Open Government Partnership, the OAIC submission to the Hawke Review and technological developments such as 'Big Data'.

A list of IAC members can be found in Appendix 7. Minutes of IAC meetings are published on the OAIC website.