ABS Privacy Policy for Statistical Information

About this policy

This Privacy Policy sets out how we handle personal information that is collected for the purpose of the production of official statistics, consistent with the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and the Australian Privacy Principles. This policy covers personal information collected through ABS surveys and Censuses, and data acquired by the ABS from other organisations. It also includes records of any contact we have made with you in the course of collecting this data.

Our legislation outlines our role as Australia’s national statistical agency (Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975), and our authority to collect, use and release statistical information (Census and Statistics Act 1905)

We have a separate privacy policy that sets out how we handle personal information to help manage and operate our business. This includes personal information collected for the purpose of engaging with people who use our services, managing contracts, distributing statistics to users, managing our staff and recruiting new staff.

Why do we collect personal information for producing statistics?

To help provide governments, businesses and communities with the information they need to inform important decisions on a wide range of economic, social, population and environmental matters. Information, such as your email and phone number, is also collected so we can contact you.

Your personal information for statistical collections

The type of personal information we collect

We collect only the personal information we need to produce statistics for Australia, and to maintain contact with you as part of our data collection activities.

To see what types of personal information we collect for statistical collections, and how long we keep that information, please see ‘Your personal information – statistical purposes’ page.

How we collect personal information

We collect personal information in a number of ways:

  • Directly from you (either when we approach you or when you contact us).
  • From a member of your household or an employee at your workplace when they are completing one of our surveys.
  • From other government agencies and data custodians that make their data available to us.

Keeping your personal information safe

We take the security of your personal information seriously. We set strict standards for protecting your privacy, and the security and confidentiality of your information.

We secure all our information in accordance with the Protective Security Policy Framework. The cyber security controls for our IT systems comply with the Australian Signals Directorate's (ASD) Information Security Manual. ABS systems that store and process statistical data are subjected to independent security assessments by independent ASD certified security assessors.

Identifiable information, such as name and address, is deleted when no longer needed in accordance with the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority and our internal records authorities (2001/00000540 and 2007/00105946).

We assess the impact of our activities on your individual privacy. These assessments are called Privacy Impact Assessments. They help the ABS design new processes, manage change, and keep your information safe. This includes when we change how your personal information will be handled.

Our legislative responsibility

Our staff are legally bound to protect your data. It is an offence to reveal any information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Breaching this requirement can result in heavy penalties, including significant fines and imprisonment. We also comply with all relevant federal legislation including the:

  • Privacy Act 1988
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975
  • Archives Act 1983

We partner with trusted third parties

We sometimes use third-party providers to help us collect statistics, such as call centre operators. These third-party providers are legally bound to meet privacy standards and our expectations. They will also have their own privacy policies, processes and security protections which we review to ensure their approach to privacy reflects our own.

How we use your personal information

We use your personal information only to perform our work under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. This can include combining your information with other sources of data to help policy makers and researchers gain a better understanding of Australia. This is known as data integration. This often helps reduce the number of questions you need to answer when completing a survey.

We will not share your personal information

The ABS will not share any personal information provided for statistical purposes in a way that is likely to identify you, unless:

  • we are returning it to you
  • you have consented
  • you would reasonably expect, or have been told, that we usually disclose information of this kind
  • it is required or authorised by law.

The ABS will not disclose your personal information to any overseas entity or for compliance or regulatory uses.

Accessing and correcting your personal information

You have the right to request access to, and correction of, your personal information. We will take all reasonable steps to address your request. In some cases, we won’t be able to provide your personal information as we have:

  • destroyed the physical forms, and
  • deleted personal identifiers (such as name and address) from the statistical data, which we do as soon as possible.

Make a privacy complaint

We are committed to protecting your privacy. We will treat any accidental or unauthorised disclosure of your personal information seriously and respond to it promptly.
If you wish to make a complaint, we will take the following steps:

  • Acknowledge your contact within five working days of receiving your complaint.
  • Ask for more information to help with our investigation if required.
  • Respond to you within 30 days.

If the matter is complex and our investigation is expected to take longer than 30 days, we will let you know and provide you with a new timeframe.

If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, you can request a review be undertaken by the ABS Privacy Officer or you may refer your complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Contact us

If you would like more information on anything covered in this policy please contact:
Email: privacy@abs.gov.au
Phone: National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
Post: Privacy Officer
Policy and Legislation Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2617

Please contact us for a hard copy of this policy.

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