Dealing with personal information in an emergency

December 9, 2020 - 4:53pm

Between bushfires, floods, cyclones and pandemics, it’s important to understand how sharing personal information during an emergency can help government agencies keep the community safe.

Queensland is the most disaster impacted state in Australia, according to Get Ready Queensland, with more than 80 significant natural disaster events happening over the past decade.

Looking back on what Queensland and Australia has experienced in the past year, it’s best to be prepared for these situations.

An emergency event such as natural disasters or a pandemic can happen without notice. Sharing information rapidly in these situations can speed up help for those in need, especially individuals whose health and safety may be at risk.

But what about the privacy implications? What do you need to consider when handling personal information in an emergency?

The Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act) contains protections and provisions for personal information held by Queensland public sector agencies. This includes flexibilities for dealing with personal information in an emergency. Some of these flexibilities include specific exemptions in the privacy principles governing secondary use and disclosure for situations where the health and safety of individuals may be at risk.

Summer is the peak time for natural disasters and we’re reminding public sector agencies to prepare or update their information sharing strategy. Having access to accurate and timely information can be crucial and allow government agencies to work together to provide help to those in need.

Find out more about sharing personal information during emergencies, as well as guidelines and scenarios.