On 12 March 2014, changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) commenced, this marked the most significant change to Australian privacy laws in over 25 years.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) focus over the past year has been on developing guidance and working with companies to ensure compliance.

“Over the last year we have focused on working with business, government agencies and the wider community to ensure that everyone has the tools and information they need to understand and implement the changes,” said the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim.

“I’ve been particularly pleased with how organisations and agencies have responded positively to the challenge of implementation. This is recognition that good privacy practices are good for business, particularly in building customer trust”.

The changes included the introduction of a new set of unified privacy principles, the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs),

changes to the credit reporting provisions and new enforcement powers for the Commissioner.

Over the past 12 months, the OAIC has:

  • received 4016 privacy complaints (a 43% increase on the previous 12 months)
  • received 14,064 privacy enquiries
  • received 104 voluntary data breach notifications
  • commenced 13 privacy assessments

Since 12 March 2014, the OAIC has encouraged organisations and agencies to focus on being open and transparent with customers about how their personal information is managed, a new requirement in the APPs. The Commissioner has commenced a targeted assessment program of a selection of online privacy policies, with more assessments focusing on APP compliance to come in 2015.

Going Forward

“For the next twelve months our focus will be on governance, assisting organisations and agencies to build a culture of privacy, and ensuring that organisations and agencies are proactive in meeting their compliance requirements. My message for all organisations and agencies is: it is more effective, and ultimately cheaper, to embed privacy in day-to-day processes than it is to respond to issues such as data breaches as they arise”, said Mr Pilgrim.

If you need assistance to ensure your organisation is fully compliant with Australian Privacy laws, please contact Conexum on 02 9340 7019 or