Sharing data safely

The Government is committed to protecting the information that is provided by the Australian public. It will enhance the protections that apply to Australians’ personal information.

The Australian Government generates a large amount of data from its day to day activities. Advances in technology mean that data can now be used to better inform program and policy development, drive research and innovation, and provide people with a seamless ‘tell us once’ service experience when dealing with government.

Summary

The Data Availability and Transparency legislation will modernise and streamline the sharing of government data. We all benefit when data is shared securely for research and development.

The safeguards built into this legislation provide different elements that work together to ensure integrity and safety for the whole data sharing system.

Sharing data for the right reason

Data sharing would only be allowed if it is safe and secure and where there is benefit to the Australian public. Under the legislation, data can be shared for three purposes:

  1. Government services delivery – more convenient access to the information and services you need.
  2. Government policy and programs – planning for the future based on the best available information.
  3. Research and development – to guide the country’s academics, scientists and innovators to make our economy, environment and society healthier into the future.
Accrediting before access

Before users can access data, individuals and their organisations must be accredited by the National Data Commissioner.

Principles-based risk management approach

The Data Availability and Transparency legislation will include a modern risk management framework, known as the Data Sharing Principles, to safely share government data. The approach we have adopted builds on the internationally recognised Five-Safes Framework. 

The legislation will ensure controlled sharing of data with the effective safeguards, appropriate to the sensitivity of the data.

Find out more about how government agencies ensure appropriate safeguards around data sharing by applying the Data Sharing Principles.

A transparent system

Data Custodians, Accredited Users or Data Service Providers must enter into Data Sharing Agreements to share data under the Data Availability and Transparency legislation.

Data Sharing Agreements will include who is sharing and who is receiving data, why data is being shared and how it will be used, what data is being shared, and how data will be protected and the risks managed.

The National Data Commissioner will maintain a public register of Data Sharing Agreements.

A more efficient system

The National Data Commissioner is working across government to ensure the legislation is implemented in a way that enhances services and protects the public.

At its core, the legislation aims to modernise and streamline the sharing of government data between agencies and with the private and research sectors, to deliver a more efficient data sharing system for:

  • Better government services for more convenient access to the information and services you need, so you don’t need to give the same information to multiple areas of government.
  • Designing government policies and programs that are better tailored for Australians, based on the best available information.
  • Innovative solutions to some of society’s most complex problems, making our economy, environment and society healthier into the future.

Case study

It's easier for people and organisations if they can provide their information to the government once, instead of giving the same information to several different agencies. This reduces duplication of data and minimises costs for government, and makes your life easier.

For example, myTax pre-fills tax information, provided to the tax office by employers, banks and government agencies, making it easier and quicker for users to complete their tax return. Over 3.5 million myTax lodgements were received in the 2018 financial year, providing quick, easy, safe and secure way for users to lodge their taxes.