Privacy today

Privacy today

Things have changed a great deal since the first Australian Privacy Commissioner was appointed in 1989.

Our phones are no longer connected to our walls, with cords stretched into bedrooms for teenagers to chat privately with friends. They are in our pockets and on our wrists, recording some of our most precious memories and private moments.

The internet, since its 1983 launch, has grown from a niche interest to a massive conduit of information, where what we share and do – and our data – is commodified.

All organisations can now collect, use and disclose huge amounts of personal information. The practices to keep it safe, and the ethics to use it responsibly, have in some cases failed to keep pace. Our deep engagement in the online environment presents extraordinary opportunities as well as challenges.

Our information and technology landscape is changing, and it’s happening fast.

But in all this growth and change we can’t lose sight of the basics. Privacy must be protected. Businesses need to do this. Government agencies need to do this. And there is a lot that we each can do to help keep our own personal information safe.

This Privacy Awareness Week (PAW), we are once again putting a spotlight on privacy and the importance of protecting personal information.

PAW 2023 will run from 1-7 May and, through this year’s theme of ‘Back to Basics’, we invite you to take a visual trip back in time, where you might discover the advice you need today.

Take a look at our ‘Privacy 101’ top tips, or test your skills with our quick quiz. There is useful advice for everyone to apply, and also guidelines for business and government.

Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an annual event to raise awareness of privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information.

Will you be a privacy champion?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner runs PAW in conjunction with state and territory privacy regulators and the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum.

Want to know more about protecting personal information? Take a look at our ‘Privacy 101’ tips using the tabs below, or test your skills with our quick quizzes. There is useful advice for everyone to apply, and also guidelines for business and government.
From the Commissioner

Privacy and PAW 2023: From the Commissioner

Angelene Falk

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner

In Privacy Awareness Week this year we are encouraging everyone to check they have covered the basics.

Once upon a time, the basics were just that – straight-forward. We could tell children not to give their information to strangers. Documents could be stamped ‘confidential’ or ‘private’ and kept in a locked cupboard, with restricted access by approved staff.

If you provided your information to a company to access a service, there was a limit to how far it would go, and who would see it. Now it can go all around the world in seconds.

But while the world may have changed, the same basic principles apply.

Here on our Privacy 101 website you can get a refresher on what you should do to protect your own personal information, as well as what organisations and agencies need to do to ensure best privacy practice.

There is tailored advice for individuals, business, and government departments and agencies: you can find them via the tabs below.

The right to privacy is fundamental, and the high-profile data breaches of the past months have put the security of personal information in the spotlight. We all know privacy must be protected, but people can be unsure what to do, or it can feel overwhelming.

That’s why our Privacy 101 website is designed to engage people and organisations in a privacy refresher, to help improve and strengthen privacy practice.

It’s easy to build good privacy habits. There are a range of straightforward steps you can take to protect your personal information, such as checking your privacy settings and strengthening your passwords. Also, thinking carefully about who you share your information with, and how.

For organisations and agencies, taking a privacy by design approach, assessing the risks and training your staff to prevent data breaches are some of the essentials. 

People need to know that they can trust organisations to handle their personal information carefully, transparently, securely and accountably and respond promptly and appropriately if things go wrong.

Of course, best practice in privacy doesn’t stand still. Privacy foundations need ongoing upgrades as our world continues to be rapidly transformed by innovations in technology. Organisations need to look ahead, to anticipate changes in their environment, and consistently revisit and revise their privacy settings. They must also be aware and responsive to the needs and concerns of their customers and the wider community.

The best organisations recognise that privacy is a fundamental right – and reflect that in all they do.

You can help show your organisation’s commitment to privacy by signing up as a Privacy Awareness Week supporter. You’ll receive our toolkit to help you increase privacy awareness among your staff, customers and stakeholders. Help your people apply best practice in privacy at home and at work, so they can be safe, and help protect others.

From all of us at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, thank you for supporting Privacy Awareness Week and protecting the personal information of all Australians.

Protect your privacy

Protect your privacy

Have you covered the basics?

We all know how important it is to protect personal information – especially in our fast-growing digital world.

This Privacy Awareness Week, we’re issuing a call to go ‘back to basics’ and revisit the fundamentals of what it takes to protect privacy – whether it’s your own, or someone else’s.

Take a look at our ‘Privacy 101’ tips using the links below, or test your skills in our quick quiz. There is useful advice for everyone to apply, and also guidelines for business and government.


How privacy is protected

In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 has strict rules about how organisations and government agencies must handle personal information.

If you think an organisation or government agency covered by the Privacy Act has mishandled your personal information, you can lodge a complaint with the OAIC for free.

While the Privacy Act is a federal law which does not cover local, state or territory government agencies (except the Norfolk Island administration), most Australian states and territories have equivalent legislation which covers their public sector agencies. Some state authorities and instrumentalities are also bound by the Privacy Act.

You can make sure your organisation is covering what it needs to, and find out more about what it can do to be a privacy leader, using the business or government tab below.

Your organisation can also sign up as a Privacy Awareness Week supporter.

Check out these privacy tips and resources for workplaces, and life outside work.

Our supporters

Our supporters

Leading Australian organisations support and participate in Privacy Awareness Week.

Signing up as a supporter is a great way for organisations to show their commitment to good privacy practices and the importance of protecting personal information.

As well as having the option to be listed on our website, supporters can access our full supporter toolkit.

There are also a variety of other ways to get involved, such as by attending events, sharing the tips and quizzes, and using materials we have created in your workplace.

Thank you to all the organisations that are supporting Privacy Awareness Week 2023, both those listed below, and the many others!

To be a PAW supporter in 2024, sign up now!



Here are some of the events from Privacy Awareness Week 2023

International Association of Privacy Professionals ANZ Delegate Tour

Monday 1 May, 9:00AM

Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland (across days)

*View the OAIC keynote from this event at the link below* The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) held an Australia and New Zealand delegate tour across Privacy Awareness Week 2023, with Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk delivering a keynote launch on Monday 1 May in Sydney. The tour included KnowledgeNet sessions in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

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OVIC – Victorian Launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2023

Monday 1 May, 10:00AM


*View the event recording at the link below* The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) kicked off its Privacy Awareness Week activities with a launch on Monday 1 May. Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner at OVIC, opened PAW 2023 with a keynote presentation. Following Sven’s address there was also a presentation from David Wolf, Deputy Commissioner IBAC. Sven discussed the theme of Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) which is Privacy: Back to basics and David’s presentation touched on investigations and accessing information during investigations. OVIC is the primary regulator and source of independent advice to the community and Victorian government about how the public sector collects, uses and discloses information.

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Queensland PAW launch event

Tuesday 2 May, 9:30AM


Join OIC Queensland for the Queensland launch of PAW, to hear from information security expert Mr Troy Hunt, CEO of ‘Have I Been Pwned’, giving a keynote on 'Lessons from billions of breached records'. There will also be an expert panel discussion focusing on how we can make organisations more resilient in the face of increasing cyber threats, how to identify risks and how to cultivate a culture where employees prioritise privacy.

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Privacy, Data and Digital Technology: NSW Webinar

Tuesday 2 May, 10:00AM


*This webinar is available at the link below* The Privacy Awareness Week NSW 2023 (PAW) webinar focuses on the impact of digital technology on privacy and explores artificial intelligence, digital identity, and facial recognition. In the webinar, the Privacy Commissioner speaks on the 2023 theme Back to Basics: Privacy foundations in NSW and provides an update on the upcoming Mandatory Notification of Data Breaches (MNDB) Scheme. Guest speaker Edward Santow, Director – Policy & Governance at the Human Technology Institute, and Industry Professor – Responsible Technology, UTS, also present on artificial intelligence, digital identity, and facial recognition. Following this is a Q&A panel further exploring these concepts featuring Ed Santow, Ian Opperman, Chief Data Scientist, DCS Data Analytics Centre, and Lenka Bradovkova, Executive Director, Identity.NSW.

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Collection: Privacy Starts Here

Tuesday 2 May, 2:00PM


*View the event recording at the link below* The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) held its first PAW Lightning Talk for Privacy Awareness Week on 2 May. Speakers discussed the common issues OVIC sees when organisations collect personal information and provided practical tips on what to be mindful of when collecting personal information. OVIC (the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner) is the the primary regulator and source of independent advice to the community and Victorian government about how the public sector collects, uses and discloses information. Although PAW is now over you can view the recording for this extremely topical event at the link below.

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Privacy Awareness Week Panel Discussion: Breakfast

Wednesday 3 May, 7:30AM


IDCARE is contributed to this year's Privacy Awareness Week discussion through a Commissioners Q&A panel discussion on reflections about the contemporary issues confronting privacy practice today and its trajectory into the future. It is a particularly important year with the Commonwealth's Privacy Act Review, the commencement of the Mandatory Notification of Data Breach Scheme for New South Wales, and ongoing cyber security policy development and reform across Australia. The event aimed to provide attendees with unique insights from three of Australia’s leading privacy regulators and how organizations' can get back to basics with our privacy.

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Commissioners Talk Privacy: Panel Event

Wednesday 3 May, 10:00AM


*View the event recording at the link below* Sven Bluemmel, Victorian Information Commissioner; Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner; Samantha Gavel, NSW Privacy Commissioner and Paxton Booth, Queensland Privacy Commissioner joined together for this Commissioners' panel event during Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2023. The Commissioners discussed key issues and developments in privacy, including data breaches, the over-collection of personal information, the review of the Commonwealth Privacy Act, and NSW’s new mandatory data breach notification scheme. The panel was moderated by Susan Bennett, Executive Director of InfoGovANZ.

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Privacy: Why and How?

Thursday 4 May, 2:00PM


* View the event recording at the link below* OVIC's second Lightning Talk: Privacy, why and how? looked at the Victorian PDP Act and application of the Information Privacy Principles. Anique Owen, Senior Privacy Adviser & Conciliator, OVIC discussed the human right to privacy, the rationale for privacy protections and how organisations should interpret and apply the Information Privacy Principles in a reasonable and proportionate way. OVIC (the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner) is the the primary regulator and source of independent advice to the community and Victorian government about how the public sector collects, uses and discloses information.

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Privacy by Design Awards

Thursday 4 May, 6:30PM


Katherine Jones PSM, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, gave a keynote presentation at the 2023 Privacy By Design Awards gala dinner and ceremony held by CyberCX from 6.30pm – 10.30pm AEST.

View event

Privacy 101
Back to Basics

PAW 2024 will run from 6-12 May. Sign up now!

For Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) 2023, we got back to basics. For the next PAW – 2024 – we are ‘powering up’ privacy. Find out more

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