Privacy and confidentiality of records

The Commonwealth’s Privacy Act 1988 requires private sector and not for profit organisations to protect and safeguard their collection and use of personal information.  The Privacy Act includes thirteen Australian Privacy Principles setting out the standards, rights and obligations for the handling, holding, use, accessing and correction of personal information.  The Privacy Act is overseen by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Associations need to obtain and keep information on clients, members and employees etc. to provide good service and comply with legal requirements such as the member’s register and tax details.  Personal information must be kept private and confidential.  This information may not be used for any unlawful purpose or without the person's consent.

In the case of the register of members, the privacy legislation does not protect this information from other members.  Members do not need to give consent for another member to view the register.  The Australian Privacy Principles states that an organisation must not disclose personal information about a person unless the disclosure is required or authorised under law. 

The Associations Incorporation Act 2015 is the law in Western Australia that enables a member to access the members’ register as discussed above.  It is important the members’ register contains only their names and addresses and no other information!

Under the Commonwealth’s privacy laws where an association collects information on clients, employees, members and others, they have a right to:

  • have their privacy rights respected;
  • be assured their information will not be passed onto a third person without their consent;
  • know what information will be kept and why (this is why you need to tell members about the members’ register!);
  • know how information will be used;
  • know how they can access this information;
  • know how to correct an incorrect or misleading record; and
  • be assured that information will only be used for the purpose it was supplied.

Visit the website for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) or telephone 1300 363 992 for more information.