The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.3.3 Privacy & confidentiality

Difference between confidentiality & privacy

This page looks at the differences between privacy and confidentiality.

Confidentiality provisions

The confidentiality provisions of the SS(Admin)Act prohibit any person from misusing information about a person that is or was held in government records for social security purposes.

Explanation: Confidentiality provisions govern the actions of all people.

The confidentiality provisions:

  • specify circumstances where obtaining, recording, disclosing, using protected information may be authorised
  • specify offences related to protected information, specify circumstances where the use of TFNs is authorised
  • protect certain documents and information from production to a court, tribunal, authority or person
  • specify when and how the Secretary may disclose information
  • compel an officer to make a declaration in a form approved by the Minister or the Secretary if required to do so by the Minister or the Secretary
  • do not prevent a person from disclosing information to another person if the information is disclosed for the purposes of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 or the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, and
  • do not affect the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'protected information'

SS(Admin)Act Part 5 Division 3 Confidentiality

Freedom of Information Act 1982

Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988

Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989

Privacy law

The privacy provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 govern the collection, protection, use and disclosure of all personal information by the government.

Explanation: Privacy provisions govern the practices of government agencies.

Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)

There are 13 APPs in the Privacy Act. They are grouped as follows:

  • consideration of personal information privacy (APPs 1 and 2)
  • collection of personal information (APPs 3, 4 and 5)
  • dealing with personal information (APPs 6, 7, 8 and 9)
  • integrity of personal information (APPs 10 and 11), and
  • access to, and correction of, personal information (APPs 12 and 13).

Act reference: Privacy Act 1988 Schedule 1

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