Get ready! Dealing with personal information in an emergency

When it comes to extreme weather events in Queensland, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. The state has been impacted by more than 80 significant natural disaster events in the past decade.

Sharing information rapidly during natural disasters or emergency events 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 (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.

Queensland public sector agencies will be better prepared to handle personal information before, during and after an emergency or disaster event if they understand these flexibilities and other provisions of the IP Act. We have a guideline for public service officers who need to use, disclose, or access personal information in a disaster or emergency event. It includes practical tips and examples to increase understanding and help simplify compliance with the IP Act.

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