Public Interest Directions

Under section 41 of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIP Act), the Privacy Commissioner, with the approval of the Attorney General, may make a Public Interest Direction (Direction) to waive or make changes to the requirements for a public sector agency to comply with an Information Protection Principle (IPP).

About Public Interest Directions

Agencies may approach the Privacy Commissioner to request a Direction, or the Privacy Commissioner may recognise a need for a Direction without a request. The general intent is for the Directions to apply temporarily. If a longer term waiver or change in the application of an IPP is required, then a Code of Practice may be more appropriate.

The Privacy Commissioner must weigh the public interest in considering whether to make a Direction. This process may involve some consultation with affected parties, and the Privacy Commissioner may need to ask the agency or agencies concerned for more detailed information about their request and their reasons for seeking the Direction.

If the Privacy Commissioner is satisfied that the public interest in making a Direction outweighs the public interest in the application of the IPPs to the conduct at issue the Privacy Commissioner will submit the draft Direction to the Attorney General, and seek the Attorney General's approval to make the Direction. Once the Privacy Commissioner has made a Direction it is posted on the IPC website.

What the Directions do, and what they don't do

A Public Interest Direction modifies the application of the IPPs or Code of Practice to particular projects or activities of one or more public sector agencies.

A Direction does not permit conduct that would otherwise be unlawful. In other words, it does not override any other laws, contracts or agreements which may already affect an agency.

For example, a Public Interest Direction which modifies IPPs 11 or 12 (the disclosure principles) doesn't necessarily provide a new lawful excuse for a disclosure to occur. The disclosure must itself be lawful under other laws or agreements. Therefore, even with a Public Interest Direction, some disclosures may still be prohibited for other reasons.

Public Interest Directions made under PPIP Act

On 1 January 2016 the provisions of the following Directions were superseded or expired, being incorporated into other statutory instruments or replaced by other legislative arrangements:

Public Interest Direction

Incorporated into

Direction on Processing of Personal Information by Public Sector Agencies in relation to their Investigative Functions

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Direction on Information Transfers between Public Sector Agencies

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Direction for the Department of Family and Community Services and Associated Agencies

Privacy Code of Practice (General) 2003

Direction on the Collection of Personal Information about Third Parties by NSW Public Sector (Human Services) Agencies from their Clients

Privacy Code of Practice (General) 2003

Direction on the Disclosure of Information to Victims of Crime

Victims Rights and Support Act 2013

Direction on Disclosures of Information by the New South Wales Public Sector to the National Coronial Information System (NCIS)

Coroners Act 2009

Direction relating to the Disclosure of Information to Credit Reporting Agencies

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Direction on Disclosures of Information by Public Sector Agencies for Research Purposes

Replaced by Section 27B of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Directions currently in operation:

Direction relating to Youth on Track  – This Direction is made under s41 of the PPIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track Scheme in order to provide case management services to young people. It was renewed on 23 December 2016 and will expire on 30 June 2017. More information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction relating to Youth on Track - This direction is made under s62 of the HRIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track scheme in order to provide case management services to young people. It was renewed on 23 December 2016 and will expire on 30 June 2017. There is a related public interest direction made under s41 of the PPIP Act. More information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction on the pilot program for the national Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework - This direction has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of health information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in the NSW Pilot Program of the Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework (CVEIF) for the purposes of the NSW Pilot Program. The direction was made on 17 June 2016 and will expire 12 months after. There is a related public interest direction made under section 41 of the PPIP Act.

Direction for the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Pilot – This Direction is made under s41 of the PPIP Act and has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of personal information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in and for the purpose of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Pilot. This direction was made on 13 April 2016 and will expire on 12 April 2018. There is a related public interest direction made under s62 of the HRIP Act. More information about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme can be found at Women NSW and NSW Department of Justice.

Direction for the exchange of personal information to assist in the transition of funded individuals to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – This Direction will enable FACS to collect an agreed data set of information about funded individuals from other public sector agencies and allied agencies, to validate and consolidate that information and use it to refer individuals to the NDIA without breaching Information Protection Principles in sections 8, 9, 10, 17, 18 and 19(1) of the PPIP Act relating to collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

Direction relating to the Disclosure of Personal Information by Councils to NBN Co Limited for the delivery of the National Broadband Network (PDF 260kb) – This Direction is made to permit the disclosure by a Council of the address of a land owner collected by a Council for rating purposes, to NBN Co to provide written notice to land owners of its intention to inspect the land, install and maintain the NBN facilities. It commenced on 7 November 2014 and will expire on 6 May 2016. The Office of Local Government has issued a general circular to councils informing them of the Direction (Circular No 15-02). It can be found at http://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/news/15-02-disclosure-information-councils-nbn-co-limited-delivery-national-broadband-network

Previous directions

Direction relating to Life on Track – This Direction was made on 1 January 2016 and expired on 30 June 2016. Information about Life on Track can be found here.

Direction on the pilot program for the national Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework - This direction has been made to permit the collection, withholding, use and disclosure of personal information by NSW public sector agencies and contracted service providers that have an identified role in the NSW Pilot Program of the Countering Violent Extremism Intervention Framework (CVEIF) for the purposes of the NSW Pilot Program. The direction was made on 16 November 2015 and will expire 6 months after. There is a related public interest direction made under section 62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to Youth on Track ( PDF 113kb) – This Direction is made under s41 of the PPIP Act and applies to NSW public sector agencies and non-government organisations participating in the Youth on Track program in order to provide case management services to young people. It was made on 23 February 2015 and will expire on 31 December 2015. There is a related public interest direction made under s62 of the HRIP ActMore information about Youth on Track is available here.

Direction relating to the Life on Track program – This Direction is made to permit the collection of personal information by the Department of Justice for the purposes of the Life on Track program. It commenced on 6 July 2015 and expires on 31 December 2015. Information on the Life on Track program can be found here.

Direction relating to the disclosure of information to credit reporting agencies – This Direction has been made to allow the Department to provide personal information to credit reporting agencies to enable lenders to be better informed about the credit worthiness of individuals who have been subject to default judgments. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on the Collection of Personal Information about Third parties by NSW Public Sector (Human Services) Agencies from their clients – This Direction replaced the Direction on the Better Service Delivery Program. It commenced on 1 July 2003 and affects some health, education, welfare, housing, juvenile justice and Aboriginal affairs agencies. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on Disclosures of Information by the New South Wales Public Sector to the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) – This Direction affects some health and justice agencies. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on Disclosures of Information by Public Sector Agencies for Research Purposes – This Direction affects most NSW state agencies. It was originally made on 28 September 2000. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on the Disclosures of Information to Victims of Crime – This Direction affects many law enforcement and justice agencies. It was originally made on 28 September 2000. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction for the Department of Families and Community Services and Associated Agencies – It was originally made on 30 June 2000. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on Processing of Personal Information by Public Sector Agencies in relation to their Investigative Functions – This Direction covers most NSW state agencies. It was originally made on 30 June 2000. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction on Information Transfers between Public Sector Agencies – This Direction covers most NSW state agencies. It was originally made on 30 June 2000. On 19 June 2015 the Privacy Commissioner renewed this Direction to commence from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015, or until legislative amendments are made to incorporate this Direction, whichever is earlier.

Direction relating to the Life on Track program (PDF 145kb) – This Direction is made to permit the collection of personal information by the Department of Justice for the purposes of the Life on Track program. It commenced on 5 March 2015 and expired on 30 June 2015. Information on the Life on Track program can be found here.

Direction relating to the Redfern Waterloo Case Coordination Project (PDF) – This Direction is made under the PPIP Act and applies to agencies participating in the Waterloo Case Coordination Project. The Privacy Commissioner has renewed this Direction, which commenced on 1 January 2014 and expired on 30 June 2015.A related Direction was made under s62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to Youth on Track – This Direction is made under s.41 of the PPIP Act and applies to the NGOs contracted to provide the case management services as a "person engaged" by the Department of Justice. It was made on 28 February 2014 and expired on 31 December 2014. A related Direction was made under s.62 of the HRIP Act. More information about Youth on Track.

Direction relating to the Anti-Social Behaviour Pilot Project – This Direction applied to the agencies listed in Schedule 1 and the local Area Commands listed in Schedule 2. It is now addressed by legislation.

Direction relating to requests made by the Ombudsman under section 13AA of the Ombudsman Act 1974 – This Direction allows public sector agencies to co-operate with the Ombudsman when the Ombudsman is conducting preliminary inquiries under section 13AA of the Ombudsman Act. It expired on 31 December 2013.

Direction relating to the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project – This Direction applied to agencies participating in the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project. It was made on 2 February 2006 and had effect for 12 months from this date or until the completion of the project whichever occurs later. A related Direction was made under s62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to CARAM-DFV Framework – This Direction allows public sector agencies and Non-Government Organisations operating within Cross Agency Risk Assessment and Management – Domestic and Family Violence Framework, to assess victims of domestic and family violence as to the extent to which those victims are at risk of experiencing future violence. A related Direction has been made under s62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to the Child Protection Watch Team Trial – This Direction applied to agencies participating in the Child Protection Watch Team Trial. It was made on 7 August 2006 and had effect until the completion of the CPWT Trial. Despite the wording of the s41 Direction, a s62 Direction under the HRIP Act has not yet been made. 

Direction relating to the Document Verification Service NSW Registry of Births Death and Marriages – Under this Direction the Registry may deal with personal information in ways which allow it to participate in the Commonwealth Government Initiative, the Document Verification Service. This Direction was renewed on 9 July 2009 and was valid for six months.

Direction relating to the Integrity of Identity Data Pilot – This Direction had effect from 29 June 2007 until the completion of the participation by the Registrar in the Pilot.

Direction relating to the Document Verification Service – This Direction applied to the Roads and Traffic Authority participating in the Commonwealth Government's Document Verification Service. It operated from 1July 2007 until the end of the project.

Direction relating to the Anti-Social Behaviour Pilot Project – This Direction applied to the agencies listed in Schedule 1 and the locations listed in Schedule 2. It operated from 30 April 2007 until 2nd September 2008, and replaced the previous Direction relating to the Case Coordination Partnership Project. A related Direction has been made under s.62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction relating to the Case Coordination Partnership Project – This Direction applied to the agencies listed in Schedule 1 and the locations listed in Schedule 2. It operated from 26th September 2006 until 30 April 2007, when it was replaced by the Direction relating to the Anti-Social Behaviour Pilot Project.

Direction on the Incidental Disclosure and the Transfer of Personal Information belonging to Third Parties to the (SA) Commission of Inquiry into Children in State Care – This Direction applied to the Department of Community Services and the South Australian Commission of Inquiry into Children in State Care. It operated from 15 November 2006 to 31 December 2006. A related Direction has been made under s.62 of the HRIP Act.

Direction for the Infringement Processing Bureau, NSW Police and Roads and Traffic Authority – This Direction affects the Infringement Processing Bureau (IPB), NSW Police and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA). It was originally made on 30 September 2003 and expired on 30 June 2005 after relevant legislative amendments were made.

Direction in Relation to the Human Tissue Project – This Direction affected the collection of information about deceased people by Health Services and Universities for the purpose of consultation with relatives about disposal of tissue. It operated from 9 July 2004 until the commencement of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 on 1 September 2004.

Direction on the Collection of Personal Information by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the Cross Agency Data Cleanse Project – This Direction authorised the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to participate Cross Agency Data Cleanse Pilot Project. It operated from 10 October 2003 until 31 December 2003.

Direction on Disclosures of Information by the National Parks and Wildlife Service – This Direction has expired but is posted for the information of other agencies that may need a temporary Direction to cover honours citations.

Direction in relation to the Department of Housing – This Direction was made 4 July 2000, and expired on the making of a Code of Practice in September 2000.

Direction for the Department of Education and Training – This Direction was made on 27 June 2000, renewed 1 October 2000 and 31 October 2000, and expired on 31 December 2000.

The Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission – This Direction was revoked on 18 January 2001 as a consequence of legislative amendment.

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