COVID-19: Information for Citizens

Last updated: 3 June 2020

Click on the headings below to expand. 

Agency Processing of GIPA Applications

As each agency activates its individual business continuity plan in response to COVID-19, the arrangements in place may vary according to the agency’s role, services and resources.

The IPC has encouraged all agencies to take proactive steps to initiate communications and put in place arrangements with applicants about how their applications will be dealt with, including whether a request for an extension of time will be necessary.

It is important in this time of rapid change, to also recognise that access to government information and the preservation of the right to access government information under GIPA continues. This is also true for the responsibilities required of agencies in complying with information protection principles and the health information principles under the PPIP and HRIP Acts.

The IPC is encouraging agencies to  liaise with citizens to enable these rights to continue to be preserved, including by taking steps to communicate with citizens on timeframes and revision to those timeframes. Wherever possible, extensions of time should be actioned to positively promote and advance the rights available to citizens under the legislation.

Citizens who have current matters with an agency should consult the agency’s website and or contact the agency for more specific information about how the Agency is progressing the application.

Current external reviews under the GIPA Act

Our services are continuing, however in these rapidly changing times we may need to engage with citizens to seek an extension under section 92A(2) of the GIPA Act to the timeframe for the Information Commissioner to complete her external review under the GIPA Act. Under section 92A(2) of the GIPA Act, an applicant may agree to an extension of time for the Information Commissioner to complete her external review. While an applicant does not have to agree to an extension, an inability for the Information Commissioner to complete her review in the current circumstances and in the absence of an agreed extension will mean that the Information Commissioner will be deemed to have made no recommendations.

The IPC will continue to make every effort to ensure that we meet the statutory timeframes established by the GIPA Act and communicate with you effectively and fairly. Applicants who may be affected by the need for an extension will be contacted directly, about the need for an extension.

Current complaints under the GIIC Act

The IPC is continuing to progress all complaints and will continue to engage with complainants and agencies. Agencies and complainants may not be able  to meet timeframes set by the IPC. If the agency advises the IPC that they need more time we will endeavour to advise complainants as soon as possible. Complainants are also asked to advise the IPC if they are unable to meet any timeframes by contacting their case officer prior to the due date to request an extension of time:

The IPC has established this dedicated page on its website to provide updates to clients and agencies as circumstances unfold. You are encouraged to continue to review our website for updates.

Current complaints under the HRIP or PPIP Act

The IPC is continuing to progress all complaints and will continue to engage with complainants and agencies. Agencies and complainants may not be able  to meet timeframes set by the IPC. If the agency advises the IPC that they need more time we will endeavour to advise complainants as soon as possible. Complainants are also asked to advise the IPC if they are unable to meet any timeframes by contacting their case officer prior to the due date to request an extension of time:

The IPC has established this dedicated page on its website to provide updates to clients and agencies as circumstances unfold. You are encouraged to continue to review our website for updates.

Privacy response by Australian Privacy Regulators

Australian privacy regulators have convened a National COVID-19 Privacy Team between the Office of the Australian Commissioner (OAIC) and states and territories with privacy laws to respond to proposals with national implications. 

Read the COVID-19 response from Australian privacy regulators

COVIDSafe legislation passed by Parliament

The Privacy Amendment (Public Health Contact Information) Bill was passed by Parliament on 14 May 2020, enforcing new privacy safeguards for COVIDSafe app data into the Privacy Act 1988. The Privacy Act is overseen by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), read the full statement here: https://www.oaic.gov.au/updates/news-and-media/oaic-expands-oversight-role-as-privacy-safeguards-for-covidsafe-app-made-law/