Information and Privacy News - Information and Privacy Commission NSW
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March 2012  

Privacy Awareness Week is coming

The Privacy Commissioner is pleased to announce that Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is on from 29 April to 5 May this year.

PAW is an opportunity for Privacy Commissioners throughout the Asia Pacific region to raise awareness of privacy issues in government and throughout the region.

The theme for PAW 2012 is how to protect personal information while engaging with social media, with a focus on secondary school students, parents and teachers. There will be information about events and resources on the
PAW website shortly.

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Changes to public interest directions

In December 2011 the Public Interest Directions made under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (PPIP Act) were renewed for a further 18 or 24 months, depending on the particular Direction.

This process prompted a consideration by the Privacy Commissioner as to whether the ongoing renewal of the long standing sector wide Public Interest Directions by the Privacy Commissioner was in fact in the public interest.

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Protocol on assessing privacy codes of practice revised

The Privacy Commissioner has revised the Protocol on Assessing Privacy Codes of Practice (Privacy Codes) under the Privacy and Personal Information and Protection Act (PPIP Act) and the Health Records & Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIP Act).  

The revised Protocol aims to give agencies insight into what matters the Privacy Commissioner considers when assessing and making recommendations to the Attorney General or the Health Minister in the making of a Privacy Code or Health Privacy Code lodged under the PPIP Act or the HRIP Act. 

It also seeks to further protect the privacy of individuals in their dealings with NSW government agencies.

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RMS launches proactive access to information committee

NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) recently announced the establishment of a Proactive Release and Open Access Committee (PROAC) to encourage and develop a culture of proactively facilitating the release of information as required under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

RMS Chief Executive Peter Duncan said the committee would be responsible for reviewing and developing the agency’s program for the proactive release of information and facilitating the publication of policy documents in accordance with the GIPA Act.

“The formation of PROAC is part of our agency’s focus on customers and their needs. As a new agency, RMS wants to develop and encourage a culture of openness among staff,” Mr Duncan said.

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Changes to the GIPA Act

The Government Information (Public Access) Amendment Bill 2011 is currently before the NSW Parliament and is expected to be passed shortly.

The Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament in November 2011 and is awaiting concurrence at the Legislative Assembly. The draft exposure of the Bill can be found on the NSW Parliament's website.

To assist agencies interpret the changes, the IPC will publish a knowledge update summarising the key changes once the Amendment Bill is passed.

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GIPA Guideline clarifies consultation requirements

The Information Commissioner has published a new Guideline to help resolve confusion about when, how and with whom agencies need to consult under section 54 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

The aim of
Guideline 5: consultation on public interest considers under section 54 of GIPA Act is to promote greater consistency in agency practices.

This Guideline clarifies:

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GIPA case management and reporting tool
The GIPA case management and reporting tool is an online resource developed to assist NSW government agencies process and report on formal access applications under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

The GIPA tool allows agencies to:

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Message from the Commissioners

L to R: Information Commissioner Deirdre O'Donnell and Privacy Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs

Welcome to the first edition of Information and Privacy News, the Information and Privacy Commission's (IPC) monthly newsletter.

As Commissioners, one of our goals is to provide a coordinated approach to information access and privacy management in NSW. This newsletter incorporates current issues and developments in the information and privacy areas and provides updates on some of our activities as champions of access to government information and privacy protection.

The focus for 2012 will be very much upon working with public sector agencies and community stakeholders to increase awareness and appropriate management of both access to information and privacy. We have met with the Attorney General within whose portfolio the IPC falls. The discussion focused upon the role of the IPC and our priorities for 2012. In late 2011, a meeting was held with the Committee on the Office of the Ombudsman and Police Integrity Commission. Consultations are also underway with the heads of agencies to better understand their challenges and to discuss the approach to privacy management and access to information being taken by the IPC. The establishment of the NSW Public Service Commission is an important initiative and we look forward to establishing a strong working relationship with the Commission.

During 2012, the Information and Privacy Advisory Committee will be established to provide advice to the IPC on key initiatives and to advise the Attorney General on any matters that he may refer to the Committee. The IPAC will comprise the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner as well as senior members of public sector agencies and members who have special knowledge or interest in access to government information and privacy. The process to select members will commence shortly and entails the Attorney General nominating members to the Governor for appointment.

We hope you enjoy Information and Privacy News. Please feel free to send this newsletter to your colleagues and networks. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future stories to 

Upcoming events

Privacy Awareness Week 
29 April – 5 May

IPC seminar 
May - TBC

IPC Creating Open Government Conference 

20 – 22 August

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