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As an Australian Government agency, the ABS must comply with the Privacy Act 1988, including the Australian Privacy Principles. These govern the way personal information about any person – including staff, customers and respondents – should be collected, stored, used and disclosed. The ABS’ Privacy Policy is published on the ABS website: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Privacy+Policy.

In 2018 the Australian Government amended the Privacy Act 1988 to further protect the privacy of Australians. The amendments introduced the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 on 22 February 2018 and the Privacy (Australian Government Agencies – Governance) APP Code 2017 (Privacy Code) on 1 July 2018. The ABS has not had a notifiable data breach and was compliant with the requirements of the Privacy Code from date of commencement (July 2018).

The ABS has a Privacy Officer and a Privacy Champion, both of whom are active in promoting privacy in the ABS. They provide leadership and advice on privacy issues and promote a positive privacy culture that values and protects personal information, while also assisting the ABS to meet the legislative requirements of the Privacy Code. The ABS participated in, and was a sponsor of, Privacy Awareness Week in 2018–19 to promote awareness of privacy within the ABS.

Protecting the privacy of Australians

The continued trust and support of our survey respondents and information providers is critical to the ABS. We maintain the secrecy of the information provided to us, as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905, while also ensuring that we meet the additional requirements of the Privacy Act 1988, the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme and the Privacy Code.

The ABS continues to take a strong ‘privacy by design’ approach to protecting the privacy of Australians. As planning and preparation for the 2021 Census of Population and Housing ramps up, so does its privacy program to ensure the information provided by people participating in and working on the Census is kept private. Preparation of a privacy impact assessment of the 2021 Census is underway. It will be undertaken by an independent service provider and will be published on the ABS website 12 months before the Census is held in August 2021.