The impact of privacy regulation on NHMRC stakeholders

Since the introduction of the private sector amendments to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 the privacy framework has become more and more difficult to understand. This is partly because of the overlay of State and Territory legislation and administrative decisions, and industry codes of practice.

Since December 2001, a range of NHMRC stakeholders have expressed concern that implementation and/or interpretation of Commonwealth and State privacy legislation is compromising research and health care.

Given the level of concern and the lack of objective information, the NHMRC established a Privacy Working Committee late in 2003. The main role of the Working Committee was to investigate the situation further and collect information that would assist in the formulation of a submission to the Australian government for the forthcoming review of the private sector provisions of the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.

The NHMRC undertook a series of consultations with stakeholders in February and March 2004. The objective was to provide the NHMRC with a comprehensive assessment of the key issues for consumer, researcher and other key stakeholders as a foundation on which to develop an informed submission.

A summary and comparison of the results of the consultations can be found in

The NHMRC also commissioned a description of the framework governing health information privacy in Australia.

Review of the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)

The introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 included a stipulation that the amendments be reviewed, commencing no later than two years after their introduction.

The NHMRC has made a submission to the review which can be downloaded below:

The Federal Privacy Commissioners Report of the Review can be found at www.privacy.gov.au.