By Madeleine Brady, Workplace Compliance Advisor at ClinLegal. Madeleine holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
Commencing 12 March 2014, significant changes were made to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). These changes were the product of privacy law reform that began in 2004. In light of these changes, it is advisable that health service providers review their workplace’s privacy policies to ensure that they are not at risk of being penalised for breaching the Australian Privacy Principles.
Background to privacy laws in Australia
Although there is no specific privacy legislation for the private sector, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) applies to all individual and institutional organisations and entities in the private & public sectors – in all States and Territories of Australia.
The most significant change to the Act as a result of the privacy law reform has been the inclusion of the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The APPs represent the minimum privacy standards for handling personal information and, as a subset, health information in any form (including paper, electronic, visual such as x-rays, and audio records). As all health service providers handle such information, they are required to comply with the 13 APPs.