12 May 2021

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) welcomes additional funding for privacy and access to information functions announced in the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

As part of the Australian Government’s Digital Economy Strategy, the OAIC will receive an additional $1.454 million a year over the next two years to support the expansion of the Consumer Data Right.

The OAIC co-regulates the Consumer Data Right and oversees privacy protections within the system, which is designed to give consumers greater choice and control over their data.

The Budget also funds the OAIC to oversee privacy protections within the My Health Record system, which is being enhanced as part of the Digital Economy Strategy.

This funding of $2.070 million a year over the next two years replaces the OAIC’s previous Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Digital Health Agency, which provided funding of $2.070 million in 2020-21.

The Budget also allocates $1 million a year to assist with freedom of information (FOI) functions within the OAIC, including the appointment of an FOI Commissioner.

This follows a significant increase in applications for Information Commissioner (IC) review of FOI decisions by agencies and ministers over recent years.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said the additional resources would assist with managing the rise in incoming FOI work and increasing privacy regulatory work.

“I welcome the additional funding announced in the Budget for the OAIC’s work across privacy and access to information,” Commissioner Falk said.

“This will allow the OAIC to continue our efforts to ensure the protection of Australians’ CDR data, which is critical in the growing digital economy.

“We will continue to oversee the privacy protections of the My Health Records system, provide advice on its expansion and audit privacy protections within the system.

“The additional resources allocated to our FOI functions, including the appointment of an FOI Commissioner, will also assist the OAIC’s work to uphold Australians’ right of access to government documents.”

The number of IC review applications received by the OAIC increased by 109% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. Over the same period, the OAIC increased the number of reviews finalised by 83%, through implementing a range of case management and efficiency measures.

More information can be found in the OAIC Portfolio Budget Statement.