Bushfires Disaster Emergency Declaration under the Privacy Act

21 January 2020
Tags: news

Australian Government agencies and private sector organisations covered by the Privacy Act 1988 who are part of the bushfire disaster response can now operate under emergency privacy provisions to assist people impacted by the bushfires and coordinate and manage the response.

The Privacy (Australian Bushfires Disaster) Emergency Declaration made by the Australian Government allows personal information about people affected by the bushfires to be exchanged by agencies and private sector organisations for specific purposes that may not otherwise be allowed. The Declaration will apply for the next 12 months.

“The Declaration will allow appropriate access to personal information about an individual impacted by the bushfires to help with a timely response to the bushfire emergency,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said.

“It recognises the need to use personal information to provide support for people affected by these devastating bushfires, while protecting their right to privacy.”

Under the Declaration, personal information can be collected, used or disclosed for a purpose that directly relates to the Commonwealth’s response to the emergency, including:

  • identifying individuals who are or may be injured, missing or deceased
  • 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.

If anyone has concerns that their personal information has been mishandled under the declaration they can make a privacy complaint.

We have developed a range of advice about the Declaration, including information for people affected by the bushfires and advice for Australian Government agencies and organisations who are part of the response.

Advice for individuals

Advice for agencies and organisations

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