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Centrelink debt recovery system

16 March 2017

On February 28, the Australian Privacy Commissioner announced he had commenced inquiries with the Department of Human Services regarding a release of personal information into the public domain. Those inquiries are ongoing.

On March 2, allegations arising from the same matter were referred to the Australian Federal Police. In order not to prejudice any proceedings in relation to this issue the Commissioner will not comment further on this matter until inquiries have concluded. 

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28 February 2017

Statement by the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim

I am aware of the media reports concerning this issue. My office is making inquiries with the Department of Human Services.

Government agencies are entrusted with a significant amount of personal information. This information must be handled in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles.

An agency may only disclose an individual’s personal information in a limited range of circumstances.

If anyone has any concerns about how their personal information has been managed they can contact my office for assistance on 1300 363 992 or visit www.oaic.gov.au.

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6 January 2017

Statement by the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim

My office has been in contact with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman about this issue.

My office works closely with DHS and other government agencies to ensure they understand their privacy obligations and adopt best practice when undertaking data-matching activities. We also undertake assessments (formerly termed audits) of DHS’ data-matching activities to ensure that the personal information collected through these processes continues to be managed in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

In 2017 we will be finalising an ongoing assessment of the privacy aspects of DHS’s Enhanced Welfare Payment Integrity — non-employment income data-matching program, as well as conducting further assessments into their data-matching activities. The results of these assessments will be made available to the public at their conclusion.

No investigation has been opened in relation to this matter by my office. However, if anyone has any concerns about how their privacy has been managed they can contact my office for free confidential advice on enquiries@oaic.gov.au or 1300 363 992.

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