Go to top of page

Communication and collaboration

We used a range of networks and communication channels during this reporting period to raise awareness across businesses, government agencies and the public about privacy and information access rights and responsibilities.

We have highlighted some of these activities below and give more detail in Part 2.

Our networks

We hosted and participated in a number of domestic and international privacy and
information access networks which provided opportunities to collaborate and share
expertise with stakeholders.

Privacy Professionals Network

The Privacy Professionals Network (PPN) is for public and private sector privacy professionals. Its membership grew during this reporting period from 3,442 to 3,623 members.

We sent regular updates to PPN members on topics such as: agencies we recently recognised to handle particular privacy-related complaints (an external dispute resolution scheme); our recent submissions about privacy-related matters to the Australian Government or other entities; a new or updated resource on a topic of interest, such as the My Health Record system; and relevant national or international developments.

The majority of PPN events in 2018–19 were fully subscribed and provided PPN members with an opportunity to hear from experts and network with colleagues.

PPN events during this reporting period included:

  • a presentation on privacy issues at the GRC Institute in Perth in November 2018
  • a Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) business breakfast in Sydney in May 2019, where the Commissioner shared insights from the first 12 months of the NDB scheme
  • a Privacy Authorities Australia panel discussion in Brisbane in April 2019, that focused on the challenges each jurisdiction faced and opportunities for cross-border collaboration.

Information Contact Officer Network

Our Information Contact Officer Network (ICON) for Australian Government FOI contact officers was given regular updates on topics such as: recent IC review decisions; a new or update resource on a topic of interest, such as updates to the FOI Guidelines; and relevant national or international developments.

At the end of this reporting period there were 527 ICON members.

We held two ICON information sessions in Canberra during this reporting period to update members on recent FOI activity, decision review trends and our priorities:

  • In September 2018, the Commissioner and the Executive team were joined by representatives of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance.
  • In April 2019, our ICON session featured representatives of the National Archives of Australia and an introduction to the Open Australia Foundation’s Right to Know website.

Consumer Privacy Network

The Consumer Privacy Network (CPN) furthers the privacy community’s understanding of current privacy issues affecting consumers. Members were appointed for a two-year period:

  • Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
  • Australian Privacy Foundation
  • Consumer Action Law Centre
  • Consumer Credit Law Centre South Australia
  • Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc
  • Financial Rights Legal Centre Inc (NSW)
  • Internet Australia
  • Legal Aid New South Wales
  • Legal Aid Queensland
  • The Foundation for Young Australians
  • National LGBTI Health Alliance
  • Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
  • National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum.

Domestic networks

Privacy Authorities Australia

Privacy Authorities Australia (PAA) is a group of Australian privacy authorities who meet regularly to promote best practice and consistency of privacy policies and laws. We joined privacy representatives from all states and territories as a member of PAA.

Association of Information and Access Commissioners

This Australian and New Zealand network is for information access authorities who administer FOI legislation. In September 2018, we hosted a meeting of the Association of Information and Access Commissioners (AIAC) members at our office in Sydney.

International networks

Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum

The Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum is the principal forum for privacy authorities in the Asia-Pacific region for exchanging ideas about privacy regulation, emerging technologies, and managing privacy enquiries and complaints.

Common Thread Network

This network brings together data protection and privacy authorities from Commonwealth countries.

Global Privacy Enforceable Network

The Global Privacy Enforcement Network is designed to facilitate cross-border cooperation in enforcing privacy laws.

International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

The largest and longest standing network for data protection and privacy authorities, the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) brings together organisations from around the world to provide leadership at international level in data protection and privacy.

The Commissioner was elected to the ICDPPC Executive Committee in October 2018 and is a co-chair of the ICDPPC Digital Citizen and Consumer Working Group.

International Conference of Information Commissioners

The International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) comprises information commissioners and ombudsmen from around the world. The ICIC provides an opportunity for information commissioners, practitioners and advocates to exchange ideas, to identify emerging trends and challenges and to strengthen public access to information.


During this reporting period, our Executive team and senior staff delivered speeches and presentations and took part in panel discussions at 36 external events, including:

  • Australian Communications Consumer Action Network ACCANect National Conference, Sydney, September 2018
  • Australian Information Security Association Cyber Conference, Melbourne, October 2018
  • the keynote address for the International Association of Privacy Professionals Australia and New Zealand Summit, Melbourne, November 2018
  • International Institute of Communications Digital Platforms seminar, Sydney, February 2019
  • a panel discussion on ‘Privacy and openness — is the balance right?’ for the Australian Banking Association, Sydney, March 2019
  • Australian Government Solicitor FOI and Privacy Forums, Canberra, November 2018 and May 2019
  • Australian Insurance Law Association National Conference, Perth, November 2018
  • a panel discussion on the ‘Increasing importance of the interrelationship between information access and data protection, including open data’ at the ICIC, Johannesburg, March 2019
  • a panel discussion on ‘Privacy — what patient and hospital information can be shared?’ at the Australian Private Hospitals Association National Conference, Melbourne, March 2019
  • a presentation on ‘Trust in the data economy: the role of stakeholders’ at the International Seminar on Personal Data, a G20 Summit Side Event, Tokyo, June 2019.

Privacy Awareness Week

Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an annual initiative of the APPA forum. It is held every year to promote and raise awareness of privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information.

In 2019, PAW ran from 12 to 18 May, promoting a range of privacy priorities through the theme ‘Don’t be in the dark on privacy’. This message was supported by a digital campaign that directed businesses, agencies and consumers to useful resources and the PAW website.

Events included a sold-out business breakfast, attended by approximately 150 representatives from business and government. Members of the Executive team and senior staff also represented the OAIC at events throughout the week, including at the Australian Government Solicitor FOI and Privacy Forum in Canberra, the Deloitte Privacy Index launch in Sydney and an Information Integrity Solutions event in Melbourne.

A record number of organisations signed up as official supporters of PAW (500, up from 360 in 2017–18) and promoted the importance of good privacy practice to their stakeholders, customers and staff. PAW supporters were given a wide range of resources to share through internal and external communication channels, including posters, social media posts and digital assets; as well as the presentation’s slides which included useful information for agencies on the Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code and the NDB scheme.

We also launched a new online game, Privacy Challenge, for PAW 2019 to raise public awareness of how to protect personal information in the digital and real-world environment. The Privacy Challenge features three different scenarios that explore a range of situations including smart phone security, social media privacy, credit reports and scams. The scenarios in this community e-learning resource were launched 2,678 times between 17 May to 30 June 2019.

Our ability to prevent, detect, deter and remedy relies on cooperation and collaboration, across regulatory regimes, across borders, with the community, business, government and academics.

This is central to our approach to regulating in the global economy: developing regulatory policy and guidance that takes account of global developments, creating interoperable regulatory frameworks, and cooperative international regulatory action.

Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, keynote address to the PAW Business Breakfast, ‘Making privacy the priority: privacy and data protection in our interconnected world’, 13 May 2019.

PAW snapshot

There were 16,045 PAW website views, 500 PAW supporters and 865 PAW posts on social media. The PAW campaign poster says Don’t be in the Dark on Privacy.

Right to Know Day

Our Right to Know Day campaign aimed to raise awareness about the public’s right to access government-held information through a dedicated website, digital promotion and events in the lead up to international Right to Know Day on 28 September 2018.

The Right to Know website hosted a new series of FOI videos, event listings, resources and promotional materials. Our events to mark Right to Know Day included an ICON information session in Canberra on the role of the FOI practitioner in promoting accountability and transparency and a community event in Sydney on 27 September 2018 where our staff engaged with more than 500 people about access to information issues.

We also hosted a meeting of the AIAC from 20 to 21 September 2018, where members collaborated on a joint statement to promote Right to Know Day and the importance of open government.

Media and social media

Media interest in our work remained strong throughout 2018–19, reflecting continued community awareness of privacy and information access rights. Media coverage of personal information security issues was also driven by mandatory notifications of data breaches to affected individuals and the OAIC, and our regular statistical reports on the NDB scheme.

We responded to 238 media enquiries in 2018–19 (compared to 317 in 2017–18) from a range of mainstream, business and digital publications.

We actively promoted awareness of privacy and information access rights through the social media channels, increasing followers and page likes across Facebook and Twitter. We also regularly shared privacy and information access updates through our e-newsletter, which was relaunched in May 2019 as ‘Information Matters’ to a combined subscriber base of almost 7,800 people.


Almost 60,000 people actively engaged with our campaign posts to promote awareness of privacy controls within the My Health Record system.

Page likes grew by almost 10% to 2,886.


More than 913,000 tweet impressions.

Followers grew by almost 10% to more than 5,200.

Webinars and podcasts

We partnered with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to present three webinars on the NDB scheme in February 2019, which attracted 222 attendees and 145 downloads. The webinars were part of a broader communications campaign with the RACGP to promote good privacy and personal information handling practices to their members.

For PAW 2019, we partnered with Wolters Kluwer to present a webinar on the NDB scheme that highlighted the findings and recommendations from our Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme 12-Month Insights Report. The webinar attracted almost 400 registrations, and 95% of attendees rated the session as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

This webinar has filled some gaps and clarified the major grey areas. The questions session gave a great opportunity to clarify any uncertainty. I am more confident in my knowledge now.

PAW webinar attendee

We also collaborated with Legal Aid NSW to create a podcast on consumer credit reporting issues for PAW, which has since been downloaded more than 250 times.