This content is current only at the time of printing. This document was printed on 16 November 2019. A current copy is located at https://apvma.gov.au/node/3207
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On this page:
- Privacy and personal information
- Kinds of personal information collected and held by the APVMA
- How and why the APVMA collects, uses and discloses personal information
- How the APVMA stores personal information
- Use and disclosure of personal information
- Cross-border disclosure of personal information
- Access to personal information
- Making a privacy complaint to the APVMA
- Dealing with the APVMA anonymously or using a pseudonym
- Further information
- Website privacy
The APVMA is subject to the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act). The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth) (Privacy Amendment Act) amended certain aspects of the Privacy Act, with effect from 12 March 2014. The Privacy Amendment Act includes a set of new, harmonised, privacy principles that will regulate the handling of personal information by both Australian government agencies and businesses. These new principles are called the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). They will replace both the existing Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) that currently apply to Australian Government agencies and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) that currently apply to businesses. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has published a summary of the APPs, and the full text of the APPs.
Personal information is defined in the Privacy Act (section 6) as:
information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:
(a) whether the information or opinion is true or not; and
(b) whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.
Examples of personal information include names, addresses, banking details, tax file numbers or photographs.
The APVMA will only collect personal information that is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of the functions or activities of the APVMA. The types of information that the APVMA generally collects and holds include:
- personal contact details
- personnel or employee records including educational qualifications
- complaint and feedback information
- financial payments records
- contract, tender and submission documents
- employee and consultants’ conflict of interest declarations
- mailing and subscription lists
- freedom of information applications and ministerial correspondence
- personal details of board appointees.
Government related identifiers such as tax file numbers may be collected, used and disclosed as required by or under an Australian law or a court or tribunal order.
Sensitive information is a subset of personal information and includes information such as:
- information or an opinion about an individual’s
- racial or ethnic origin
- political opinions or political associations
- religious beliefs
- membership of a professional or trade association
- sexual preferences or practices
- criminal record
- health information.
Due to the nature and functions of the APVMA, the agency may hold a range of sensitive personal information including:
- health information about an individual such as health information collected for human resources purposes
- health information collected from adverse experience reporting where it relates to humans
- background and police checks.
The APVMA will collect sensitive and personal information where the individual consents and where the information is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of the APVMA’s statutory functions or activities under theAgricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992. The activities of an agency include incidental and support activities, such as human resources, corporate and public relations and communications activities.
In very limited circumstances, the APVMA may collect personal information from a third party such as when it is authorised under an Australian law or where a court order exists. If the APVMA collects personal information about an individual from another source, the APVMA will take reasonable steps in the circumstances to notify the individual of the collection of the information and circumstances of the collection, in accordance with APP 5.2.
Where the APVMA holds personal information about an individual that was collected for a particular purpose (the primary purpose), the APVMA will not use or disclose the information for another purpose (the secondary purpose) unless:
- the individual has consented to the use or disclosure of the information
- the individual reasonably expects that information to be disclosed by the APVMA
- the use or disclosure of the information is required or authorised by or under an Australian law or a court or tribunal order
- a permitted general situation exists in relation to the use or disclosure of the information by the APVMA
- a permitted health situation exists in relation to the use or disclosure of the information by the entity, or
- the APVMA reasonably believes that the use or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary for one or more enforcement related activities conducted by, or on behalf of, an enforcement body.
Any such disclosure of information is conducted in accordance with the guidelines made by the Privacy Commissioner.
The APVMA stores all personal information securely and restricts access to a limited number of staff who need access to the information to perform their duties or assist individuals concerned. The APVMA’s information is stored electronically, on databases or in emails, or on hard copy files.
The APVMA takes all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is protected from misuse, loss and interference.
When information is no longer required, the APVMA securely destroys it in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 and relevant disposal authorities.
The APVMA only uses or discloses information it has collected for the purposes for which it was collected (the primary purpose), unless an individual has consented to another use.
There are certain limited circumstances in which the APVMA may use or disclose information in its possession for a different purpose (a secondary purpose). These include where the individual would reasonably expect the APVMA to use or disclose the information for a secondary purpose, and where the secondary purpose is:
- directly related to the primary purpose for which the information was collected
- required or authorised under an Australian law (for example, the Public Service Act 1999) or has been ordered by a court or tribunal
- necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual, or public health or safety
- a permitted general or health situation, as defined by the Privacy Act, or
- reasonably necessary for one or more enforcement related activities.
If the APVMA uses or discloses information for a purpose other than what it was originally collected for, the APVMA will keep a written notice of that use or disclosure as required by the APPs.
The APVMA does not routinely disclose personal information to overseas recipients. If at some point disclosure to an overseas recipient becomes necessary, the APVMA will comply with APP 8.
APVMA may grant individuals’ requests to access to their own personal information that the APVMA holds about them unless the APVMA is required or authorised to refuse to give the individual access to the personal information by or under:
- the Freedom of Information Act 1982, or
- any other Act of the Commonwealth.
There is no cost associated with making such a request.
The APVMA will process the request and provide access to the information, in most cases, within 30 days of receiving the request. If the APVMA decides not to give access to the information, a written statement of reasons will be provided.
The more information an individual can provide about dealings they have had with the APVMA, the more quickly the APVMA will be able to locate any information held.
Correction of personal information
Individuals may request that the APVMA amend any personal information held about them that is inaccurate, out of date, incomplete, irrelevant or misleading (APP 13). This APP operates alongside the Freedom of Information Act 1982, under which an individual may make a request to have personal information amended or annotated.
If an individual considers that information held by the APVMA requires amending, a written request should be sent to the APVMA outlining what aspects of the information is believed to be inaccurate, incorrect or out of date. This request should be made under the Privacy Act.
There is no charge associated with making such a request. Notification of the outcome of the request will be provided within 30 days. If the APVMA refuses to correct or amend the information, a written explanation will be provided.
Where the APVMA has disclosed information to a third party, an individual may request that the third party also be notified of any corrections or amendments made. If it is reasonable and practical to do so, the APVMA will notify the third party of the amendments.
For further information or assistance in relation to access and correction of personal information, the APVMA’s Legal and Strategic Coordination Program should be contacted using the contact details below.
An individual may make a privacy complaint about the way in which the APVMA has handled personal information. Such complaints should be in writing and should be provided to the Legal and Strategic Coordination Program using the contact details below.
The APVMA will request details of the complaint so we can investigate the issues and concerns raised. Notification of an outcome will be provided as soon as possible and individuals will be kept up to date as to the progress of their complaint.
If an individual is not satisfied with the outcome of such an investigation they can contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. Further details on privacy and making a privacy complaint can be found at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner .
One of the functions and powers of the APVMA is to collect, interpret, disseminate, and publish information relating to chemical products and their use, with the objective of promoting the health and safety of human beings, animals and the environment as the first priority for regulating chemical products and their constituents.
The identity of an individual is typically relevant and necessary in order to achieve the APVMA’s objectives of communicating to the community and stakeholders on developments in regulatory matters. In the interests of accurate communications with the relevant target audience, it is therefore not practicable for the APVMA to deal with individuals who have not identified themselves or who have used a pseudonym. If an individual is concerned about not being able to deal with the APVMA anonymously, they can contact the APVMA’s Legal and Strategic Coordination Program and the circumstances will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
For security reasons, and to protect personal information, persons inquiring about personal information may be asked to provide proof of their identity.
To access personal information, make an inquiry or make a complaint about personal privacy, send a written request to the APVMA:
Mail: Legal and Strategic Coordination Program
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
PO Box 6182
Kingston ACT 2604
For further information on privacy and information policy refer to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner via their website or by telephone on 1300 363 992.
For information about the role and functions of the Commonwealth Ombudsman refer to their website or telephone 1300 362 072.