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Trust, ethics and privacy

People trust government to collect, manage and use their data well, with regard to trust, ethics and privacy. 

Transparency in how the Government uses the data it collects, is critical to building and maintaining public trust. The Building Trust in the Public Record policy helps entities manage their information assets to better support, protect and serve the community. 

Data ethics refers to how we procure, store, manage, use, and dispose of data in ways that are aligned with principles such as fairness, respect, responsibility, integrity, quality, reliability, transparency, and trust. Entities should demonstrate trustworthy behaviours and uphold individuals’ privacy.

The Privacy (Australian Government Agencies – Governance) APP Code under the Privacy Act 1988 requires agencies to have a designated SES level Privacy Champion to promote a culture of privacy that values and protects personal information within an agency and a designated Privacy Officer who is the first point of contact for privacy matters, responsible for ensuring day-to-day operational privacy activities are undertaken.

Government response to review of Privacy Act 1988 (Attorney-General’s Department) 

On 28 September 2023, the Australian Government released its response to the Privacy Act Review Report. In its response to the review, the Government commits to enhance the privacy protections provided to individuals and ensure Australian businesses have clarity about information covered by the Privacy Act and how to best protect this information.

Notifiable Data Breach Scheme (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner)

Under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme any organisation or agency the Privacy Act 1988 covers must notify affected individuals and the OAIC when a data breach is likely to result in serious harm to an individual whose personal information is involved. A data breach occurs when personal information an organisation or agency holds is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure.

Ethics Committee (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare Ethics Committee ensures data about people is handled with respect and in line with best practice. It comprises 12 members representing a broad cross-section of the community, including professionals experienced in providing care, researchers, and people representing the general community.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct (National Health and Medical Research Council) 

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023) consists of a series of guidelines made in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. The 2023 National Statement is effective from 1 January 2024. From that date, the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018) will be revoked and researchers submitting human research proposals for ethics review, ethics review bodies and those involved in research governance will be expected to apply the guidance in the 2023 National Statement.

Whole of Government Ethics Framework (Australian Tax Office)

The Ethics Framework will identify next steps for extending beyond current data uses as new technologies emerge and are adopted. It will complement products applying to specific use areas. Adoption of a common data ethics framework across all APS agencies will help agencies safely and appropriately expand their use of data in new and innovative ways while building trust with the public that their data is being used in ethical ways.


Data Availability and Transparency Act (Office of the National Data Commissioner)

The Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 commenced on 1 April 2022. The Act was a key recommendation from the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Data Availability and Use (2017), which highlighted the value of our national data set. The Act establishes the DATA Scheme under which Commonwealth bodies are authorised to share their public sector data with Accredited Users.

Intergovernmental Agreement on Data Sharing  (Department of Finance)

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Data Sharing commits all jurisdictions to share public sector data as a default position, where it can be done securely, safely, lawfully and ethically. The IGA came into effect in July 2021, and sets out agreed principles for data sharing.

Multilateral Data Sharing Agreement (Department of Finance)

To support the development of the National Disability Data Asset (NDDA), the ABS and AIHW worked with stakeholders to develop a Multilateral Data Sharing Agreement (MDSA) that adopts and operationalises the Intergovernmental Agreement on Data Sharing, streamlining agreement from data custodians and simplifying the process for linking new datasets and data re-use. The MDSA will be an important data sharing tool that will facilitate the creation of future data assets across other policy domains.

Analyse and use

Analyse and use refer to the ability to draw useful information and insights from data. Evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming this practice.

Safe and Responsible Use of AI Paper (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

This discussion paper focuses on governance mechanisms to ensure AI is developed and used safely and responsibly in Australia. These mechanisms can include regulations, standards, tools, frameworks, principles, and business practices. The paper builds on the recent Rapid Research Report on Generative AI delivered by the Government’s National Science and Technology Council. Feedback to inform consideration across government on any appropriate regulatory and policy responses. These will build on the Government’s multimillion investment in responsible AI through the 2023–24 Budget. The right measures will foster the public trust Australia needs to fully realise the benefits of AI.

Interim Guidance on Generative AI for Government (Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Digital Transformation Agency)

The Interim Guidance on Generative AI for Government is an iterative guide provided for Government agencies to implement within their organisation. APS staff should follow their agency's policies and guidance on using generative AI tools in the first instance. Users should first and foremost align with their departmental or agency ICT obligations and policies. The DTA encourages departments and agencies to review their policies related to AI in line with this advice.

Critical Technologies in the National Interest (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

The list identifies current and emerging technologies that are critical for Australia today or could become critical within the next 10 years. The list underpins our efforts to: • promote Australia as a secure nation of excellence for investment, research, innovation, collaboration, and adoption of critical technologies – globally and in our region ensure secure critical technologies supply chains • reach our goal of 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030 maintain the integrity of our research, science, ideas, information, and capabilities – enabling Australian industries to thrive, and maximise the value for our nation from critical technologies

Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

Australia is collaborating on the responsible use and development of AI as a founding member of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative which aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.

Built around a shared commitment to the OECD Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence, GPAI brings together engaged minds and expertise from science, industry, civil society, governments, international organisations, and academia to foster international cooperation.

National Quantum Strategy (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

The National Quantum Strategy is the Government’s plan to grow the quantum industry in Australia. The strategy sets out a long-term vision for how Australia will take advantage of the opportunities of quantum technologies.

Growing Australia’s Critical Technologies (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

The Critical Technologies Statement outlines how the Government is supporting critical technologies. Critical technologies are technologies that can impact Australia’s national interest, including our economic prosperity, national security, and social cohesion.

Australia’s AI Ethics Principles (Department of Industry, Science and Resources)

Australia’s 8 Artificial Intelligence Ethics Principles are designed to ensure AI is safe, secure, and reliable. They will help: 

  • achieve safer, more reliable, and fairer outcomes for all Australians
  • reduce the risk of negative impact on those affected by AI applications
  • businesses and governments to practice the highest ethical standards when designing, developing, and implementing AI. 

The principles are voluntary. We intend them to be aspirational and complement – not substitute –existing AI regulations and practices.


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