Are sporting clubs covered by the Privacy Act?

If a club has an annual turnover of more than $3 million, then it will be covered by the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988. Many smaller sporting clubs may be covered for various reasons, for example, because they are related to a larger organisation or because they provide a health service and hold health information. For more detail on whether such organisations might be covered.

Clubs with an annual turnover of less than $3 million will still be covered by the Act if they provide a health service and hold health information. A ‘health service’ and ‘health information’ are broadly defined in section 6 of the Privacy Act. Where a club has programs or facilities to assist its members with their injuries, or with maintaining or improving their level of fitness and health, it is probably providing a health service, especially if the club employs a health professional. The information about the injuries, fitness or health of a member which is collected and used by the club for those programs would be health information within the meaning of the Privacy Act.

In summary, it is the Privacy Commissioner’s view that a club which provides such assistance for its members should assume that it is covered by privacy laws and should take steps to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles.

Can sporting clubs disclose information about a player’s injury?

Yes, if the player understands this is likely to happen, and has given consent.

Careful handling of any individual’s health information is an important privacy issue.

The practice of collecting information and reporting on the health of sports people can continue providing the requirements of the Privacy Act are met, particularly the requirement that the individual’s consent is obtained when their health information is collected. In most instances, this is often arranged most easily at the same time as players sign on for another season with their subscriptions and sort through other documentation that covers insurance and other issues.

Sporting clubs must take appropriate steps to ensure all players understand the disclosure practices of the club before disclosing information about their players’ injuries.

See the Australian Privacy Principles Guidelines for more information about consent.