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Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act

The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 introduces a range of new responsibilities for local councils in New South Wales when dealing with 'personal information'. The Act establishes 12 'Information Protection Principles' and also prescribes what 'personal information' may be accessed from a Public Register. 'Personal information' is any information that identifies - or could lead to the identification of - a person. The information may be held in hard or electronic copy.

The Willoughby City Council Privacy Management Plan
In response to the new legislation Willoughby City Council developed and is implementing a Privacy Management Plan. The purpose of the Management Plan is to;

  • establish policies and practices which ensure compliance with the provisions of the new Act;
  • provide for the dissemination of these policies and practices to persons within Council;
  • establish a process for the internal review of privacy related complaints; and
  • provide for such other matters as may be considered relevant to the protection of 'personal information' and privacy.

Under the Willoughby City Council Privacy Management Plan, Council is required to;

  • identify and analyse the purposes of all Public Registers kept by Council;
  • establish new access procedures, including at times the taking of statutory declarations from persons seeking to access 'personal information';
  • amend its notification procedures when 'personal information' is collected or used;
  • review all Council forms, surveys, which are used to obtain personal information etc. for compliance;
  • ensure contractors and consultants engaged by Council are aware of and comply with the provisions of the Act; and
  • provide comprehensive training to relevant staff.

What type of 'Personal Information' does Council collect?
In order to carry out its normal range of services, Council from time to time collects from residents and customers 'personal information' such as;

  • Names, address and contact details
  • Property and Land Use details

Furthermore, in order to assess and meet specific needs and determine public opinion, Council may also seek demographic details, as well as information concerning personal and professional interests. Such information may be collected for example in a Customer Services survey.

How will this 'Personal Information' be used?
Willoughby City Council will collect 'personal information' from you only if it is required to fulfil a lawful purpose related to Council's functions. When seeking 'personal information' Council will advise you how that information will be used, whether it is being requested voluntarily or you are legally obliged to provide the information. You will also be told within which part of Council the information will be held. Your 'personal information' will not be on-sold. It will be passed onto another government agency only where it is necessary for that agency to have this information to fulfil its functions. Council will collect only that information required for the purpose, ie. excessive or superfluous information will not be collected, and the information will be held only as long as necessary.

How do I know what 'Personal Information' is held about me?
Subject to various legislative exemptions, you are entitled to know what 'personal information' about you may be held by Council and to access that information. If the 'personal information' is not correct then Council must amend it and, if practicable, advise any other parties that may have received this inaccurate information. Application forms are available from Council's Administrative Offices. Access to documents and records may also be provided under Freedom of Information legislation and various provisions of the Local Government Act and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

For more information on the Council's Privacy Management Plan and how it effects you, contact Council's Privacy Contact Officer on 9777 1000.