Budget Footnotes

Investigation of Complaints Investigation of Complaints The Privacy Commission looks at each complaint to see whether a full investigation is necessary.  Sometimes the issues in the complaint are not matters that they can deal with under to Privacy Act provisions.  They will discuss this with the complainant (person who makes a complaint) and, if possible, will advise of other suitable avenues to deal with the complaint.  If they decide to investigate, they will advise the complainant and the other party.The Privacy Commission conducts investigations by talking to the parties in person, on the phone or through letters or email.  They are happy to talk to people directly as long as they treat them courteously.  If people are abusive, their ability to speak with an investigator may be withdrawn, and they will only be able to communicate with them in writing.Both parties need to provide them with copies of all relevant documents and information.  The earlier this is done, the quicker the investigation will be completed.  If the complainant fails to give them relevant information, they may be unable to investigate further, and they may close the file.  If the respondent fails to provide information, this may result in the Privacy Commission referring the complaint to the Directors of Human Rights Proceedings.  Discontinuing an investigation: Situations sometimes arise where a complete investigation is not necessary or appropriate.  In these circumstances, they may decide to discontinue the investigation.  The complainant has the chance to comment before we do this.When the investigation is completed:  If the complaint is not settled or the investigation discontinued, they will advise you of their final view on how they see the complaint in the context of the facts as they know them and the relevant law.  If they believe that the complaint has substance but the parties have been unable to settle it, they may refer the complaint to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings.  He is completely separate from their office.  His role is to decide whether to take proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal against the agency.  If they believe that the complaint does not have substance, they will simply close the file.  However, the complainant can still file proceedings directly in the Human Rights Review Tribunal on his or her own behalf.Human Rights Review Tribunal: The Tribunal hears the complaint afresh.  It does not review our investigation and is not bound by our opinion.  But the Tribunal can only make decisions under the Privacy Act on matters that we have actually investigated.  It determines whether the agency’s actions have breached the Privacy Act and interfered with an individual’s privacy.  It can make various types of orders including payment of compensation.Does the Commissioner order an agency to pay money?  The Privacy Commission is impartial and does not take the side of either party.  They have to maintain secrecy in handling complaints.  This ensures that people can talk openly and frankly to them.  This in turn makes sure that they can get the information they need to investigate properly and help you to settle the problem.Do I have the right to see everything on the file? Communications with the Privacy Commission are protected by law.  Usually, they do not share the actual correspondence that they receive, but they do ensure that each party knows that they are investigation and why, so that they have a chance to tell them their views.  They have to maintain secrecy in handling complaint.  This ensures that people can talk openly and frankly to them.  This turn makes sure that they can get the information they need to investigate properly and help you settle the problems.Investigations are usually closed within six months and the Privacy Commission is independent of the Government.Does the Commission have to investigate my complaint? They may not always investigate a complaint, or they man not investigate it fully.  For example, this might be because:! The complaint doesn’t involve a potential breach of one of the privacy principles.! The incident happened too long ago.! The complaint relates to personal, family or domestic affairs.! There is a better way of dealing with the matter.! There is an internal complaints procedure, which needs to be followed first.! The complaint is about a breach of someone else’s privacy and does not raise wider privacy concerns.! Further investigation is unnecessary or inappropriate.

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