How does privacy affect me?

If your information is held by the New South Wales (NSW) public sector or a health service provider, then there are laws, regulations and principles that protect your privacy rights.

Equally, if you are an officer of a NSW public sector agency, a health service provider, or organisation that holds health information, these laws and principles guide your duties in protecting the privacy of members of the public and of colleagues.

Privacy for members of the public

The NSW Privacy Commission protects and promotes your privacy rights specifically when dealing with NSW public sector agencies, health service providers, or organisations holding health information. The Privacy Commissioner's role is to make sure that privacy laws and principles are abided by and assist you with resolving complaints. The Privacy Commissioner also has broader powers to investigate and research privacy issues.

The laws below are overseen by the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC) and help protect your rights to privacy in NSW.

Privacy Principles

There are 12 Information Protection Principles (IPPs) and 15 Health Information Principles (HPPs) that set out the legal requirements that NSW public sector agencies (and private sector health organisations and organisations holding health information for HPPs) must abide. These are set out in the following fact sheets:

There are also regulations, statutory guidelines, codes of practice and directions which also apply. Further information can be found under Applying the law.

Who has to abide by these laws?

The PPIP Act and IPPs apply to NSW public sector agencies including government departments, local councils and universities.

The HRIP Act and HPPs apply to NSW public sector agencies including government departments, local councils and universities, public and private sector health organisations, health service providers and large businesses that store health information.

What is a public sector agency?

By public sector agency, we mean most NSW government departments, universities and all local and county councils in NSW.

You can find a complete list of agencies on the NSW Government Directory and a complete list of NSW councils on the Office of Local Government website.

State-owned corporations such as Sydney Water are not included, however some have adopted the NSW privacy regime.

Please feel free to contact the agency or us if you are unsure whether the NSW privacy laws apply.

What is a health service?

Put simply, a ’health service‘ is a NSW organisation that provides you with a health service. The meaning within the HRIP Act includes the following:

a) medical, hospital and nursing services
b) dental services
c) mental health services
d) pharmaceutical services
e) ambulance services
f) community health services
g) health education services
h) podiatrists, chiropractors, osteopaths, optometrists, physiotherapists, psychologists and optical
i) dietitians, masseurs, naturopaths, acupuncturists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, audiologists, audiometrists and radiographers
j) other alternative health care

Who isn't covered under NSW laws?

Typically, you cannot make a complaint on behalf of someone else unless you are authorised to do so or are a legal guardian.

If the organisation is a Federal government agency or a large private sector organisation, such as a bank, real estate agent, retail shop or telecommunications company, it may be covered under Federal privacy laws. You can find out more information by contacting the office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

If the organisation is in another state or territory, please refer to who we work with for privacy bodies in other states.

If the organisation is located overseas, it may be covered by the privacy laws of that country.

Please feel free to contact the agency or us if you are unsure whether the NSW privacy laws apply.

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If your information is held by the New South Wales (NSW) public sector or a health service provider, then there are laws, regulations and principles that protect your privacy rights.