Purpose

This document provides a template that can be used for the preparation of complaints to the Australian Privacy Commissioner about privacy-invasive acts or practices of Commonwealth Government agencies. By agreement, the same procedures are relevant to A.C.T. government agencies.


Background

The Australian Privacy Commissioner is empowered under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to handle complaints about acts or practices of Commonwealth agencies that breach the Information Privacy Principles. (A Government Bill proposes amendment of the Act so that it purports to regulate the private sector. This might include some limited purview over companies, but don't get too excited ...).

Part V (ss. 36-51) is the relevant segment of the legislation, and the key section is s.36. Representative complaints are acceptable, subject to conditions stipulated in s.38.

Some factors listed under s.41 enable the Privacy Commissioner to avoid dealing with a complaint. Important among these is that the complaint must have been first addressed to the agency about whom the complaint is being made.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office provides guidance on how to lodge a complaint. This includes a form that can be used to make sure that you have taken appropriate prior steps, and have included all of the information that the Office may need in order to handle the complaint.

The following template suggests a format that can be used for the letter of complaint, or letter accompanying the Privacy Commissioner's form.


Template
<Letterhead>

<Date>

Director of Complaints

Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner

GPO Box 5218

Sydney, NSW 1042

Dear Sir / Madam

Re: <Topic>

We are making a complaint under s.36 of the Privacy Act 1988 on behalf of those of our members and others who are affected by actions of <agency> in <doing something>.

We believe that the actions of <agency> constitute an interference with privacy for the following reasons:

This matter is important because:

As well as investigating the specific complaint about breach of the IPPs, we also request your advice as to what discussions your office had with <agency> about <issue>.

Yours sincerely

<name>

<function>

<contact points>