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Information Sheet (About the Office): Client Service Charter
About our Charter
This Charter outlines:
- our service standards and goals
- how we handle complaints
- how you, our clients, can help us to achieve our standards.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has four main goals:
- High quality results.
- Increased community awareness about privacy choices and obligations.
- Robust relationships.
- A confident and competent workforce.
About the Office
The Office is an independent statutory authority that promotes and protects personal information privacy in Australia.
More information about the Office is available on our website at www.privacy.gov.au/.
What we do
Generally, the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) protects personal information about people held in a record.
- gives general guidance, advice and information about the Privacy Act and privacy issues
- investigates complaints from individuals, or on the Office's initiative, when information may have been mishandled
- audits Australian and ACT government agencies, credit providers and credit reporting agencies and, if asked, other private sector organisations
- publishes reports and submissions on privacy-related issues
- undertakes research on privacy-related issues affecting the Australian community
- promotes awareness of privacy rights and responsibilities.
Note: The Office does not give legal advice.
- Our Annual Report
- Materials and Resources (such as information sheets, guidelines and submissions)
- Frequently asked questions.
Any person, agency or organisation we deal with is our client.
Agencies and organisations covered by the Privacy Act include:
- Australian and ACT Government Ministers and agencies
- private sector organisations with a turnover greater than $3 million
- all private sector health service providers
- some small businesses
- credit providers and credit reporting agencies
- any organisation or individual handling personal tax file numbers
- any organisation or individual handling old minor criminal conviction information.
Our service standards
Our aim is to give you quality information that is:
- easy to understand.
2 Courteous and helpful service
Our staff will:
- treat you courteously, respectfully and fairly
- handle your enquiry as quickly as possible.
- If our enquiries staff cannot handle your enquiry directly, you will be referred to a senior officer.
- At busy times, your call will be diverted to our answering service. Please leave a clear, brief message and we will return your call as soon as we can.
- If our Office cannot help you, we will try to refer you to someone who can.
Our aim is to send an initial response to your written enquiry (letter or email) within 10 working days.
- advises the agency or organisation as soon as possible of its audit findings
- aims to cause minimal disruption to agency or organisation operations.
ComplaintChecker: This checker is a good first step. It will help you work out whether the Privacy Commissioner can investigate your privacy complaint.
When you make a privacy complaint to our Office we will tell you:
- how we are handling your complaint
- how your complaint is progressing.
Complainants and respondents (the agency or organisation) are given adequate and fair opportunity to submit comments.
If the Office audits your agency or organisation, we will:
- tell you about the audit process
- give you an opportunity to comment on our preliminary findings.
Policy advice, guidelines and research
When the Office is developing significant policy advice, guidelines or research papers we generally:
- consult widely
- explain our processes
- give reasonable timeframes for feedback.
We will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act.
5 How you can help us
To help us give you the best possible service please:
- treat our staff courteously
- give staff accurate and full information
- meet any reasonable requests from our staff. Example: give the Office written information to support your complaint about a possible privacy problem.
6 Not satisfied with our service?
If you are not satisfied with our service, please tell the staff member you are dealing with.
- If you are not satisfied with the way a staff member has handled your concerns, ask to speak to their supervisor or another senior officer.
- If you are still not satisfied, please write to us. We aim to respond to you within 10 working days.
After you have followed the steps above, you can contact the Ombudsman if you:
- think that your complaint about our service has not been handled satisfactorily
- are not satisfied at any time with the way your complaint has been handled.
If the Ombudsman finds your complaint is justified, the Ombudsman can recommend that the Commissioner take other appropriate action.
The Ombudsman's services are free.
Contact: 1300 362 072 or visit http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/.
Privacy complaint review
You can apply to the Court for judicial review of a decision not to investigate your complaint or a determination.
Example: You have lodged a complaint with the Office about a possible privacy problem, and you think that:
- the process the Office used to make its decision was unfair
- the Commissioner's determination following the investigation of your complaint was not legally correct
- the Commissioner's decision not to investigate your complaint or not to investigate it further was not legally correct.
How to seek a review:
- You can submit an application to the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.
- Your appeal must be made within 28 days of the date of the Office's final decision. There is usually an application charge.
The Court will not review the merits of your case but it may refer the matter back to the Commissioner for further consideration if it finds the Commissioner's:
- decision was wrong in law
- powers were improperly exercised.
If you want the Court to review the Commissioner's decision or determination you must lodge an application to the Court within 28 days of the date of the decision or determination.
You may wish to seek legal advice as the process can involve fees and costs.
Contact: The Federal Court registry in your State or Territory for more information, or visit www.fedcourt.gov.au/contacts/contacts.html.
7 Access to your personal information and documents
You have the right to seek access to your personal information.
You can also seek access to a range of other Office documents.
- Contact the Office's Freedom of Information Officer (see our contact details at '10' below).
We will report on the general operation of this Charter in our Annual Report.
9 Feedback and suggestions for improvement
We review our Charter regularly.
The Office welcomes your feedback on how it can improve its services, performance and processes.
- Give feedback to the person you have been dealing with (or that person's supervisor).
- Direct your feedback to the Director, Corporate and Public Affairs.
10 Our contact details
Office hours: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Friday (Eastern Standard Time).
Phone: 1300 363 992
Local call rates apply except from mobile and pay phones which may incur higher charges.
TTY: 1800 620 241
This number is dedicated for the hearing impaired only, no voice calls.
Fax: 02 9284 9666
Postal Address: Office of the Privacy Commissioner
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
Website address: www.privacy.gov.au/
- All publications on our website can be downloaded free of charge.
- Our website is usually available 24 hours a day.
Website feedback form: www.privacy.gov.au/feedback
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS): 131 450
If English is not your first language and you need help to talk to us, call the Translating and Interpreting Service. Ask for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Local call cost. Our website has information pages in 11 languages.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Privacy Enquiries Line 1300 363 992 - local call (calls from mobile and pay phones may incur higher charges)
TTY 1800 620 241 - no voice calls; Fax + 61 2 9284 9666; GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
About the Office Information Sheet - Client Service Charter
Web HTML and PDF first published March 2008; updated June 2010
© Commonwealth of Australia 2010