The Australian Government has made an emergency declaration under the Privacy Act 1988 in response to the bushfires across Australia.

While the declaration is in force, if an Australian Government agency or private sector organisation covered by the Privacy Act believes that you have been impacted by the bushfires, they are permitted to handle your personal information for several purposes that may not otherwise be allowed.

These purposes must directly relate to the Commonwealth’s response to the bushfire emergency, and can include:

  • identifying individuals who are or may be injured, missing or deceased as a result of the bushfire emergency, or are otherwise involved in the emergency
  • assisting impacted individuals to obtain services such as medical treatment, health services, financial assistance or other humanitarian services
  • assisting law enforcement with the bushfire emergency
  • coordinating or managing the emergency
  • ensuring that a person who is responsible for an individual involved in the emergency is appropriately informed about the individual and the emergency response to the individual.

Agencies and organisations are limited in who they can disclose personal information to under these provisions. If you think that your personal information has been mishandled under the declaration you can make a privacy complaint.

The declaration expires on 20 January 2021.

More information is available in our advice for agencies and organisations or through our enquiries team.

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