Privacy Policy

Purpose of this Privacy Policy

This privacy policy details how the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will treat any personal information that it collects as part of the voluntary Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey (the Marriage Survey).

As required, it also outlines what personal information we will collect and how we will use it.

Authority and purposes for collecting and using your personal information

Protecting your privacy and confidentiality is critical to the ABS. As an Australian Government agency, we comply with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and manage personal information in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles.

The ABS is undertaking the Marriage Survey in accordance with the Census and Statistics (Statistical Information) Direction 2017 (the Direction) issued by the Treasurer on 9 August 2017 (and amended on 17 August 2017), and the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (Census and Statistics Act).

The Marriage Survey is not compulsory

Participation in the Marriage Survey is voluntary. If a person does not wish to participate then no action is required. The Australian Statistician will not make any compulsory requests for individuals to complete the Marriage Survey, and no penalties will apply if individuals decide not to participate in the Marriage Survey.

Personal information that the ABS will collect

In order to conduct the Marriage Survey, the ABS will collect two key sets of personal information:

  • Commonwealth Electoral Roll information for all Australians who are ‘electors’ within the meaning of the Direction1, comprising:
    • For registered silent electors, and members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) who are registered with the AEC as deployed overseas - elector reference number and electoral division (however, these details are not considered to be personal information); and
    • For all other electors - elector reference number, name, address, gender, electoral division and date of birth.
  • Completed survey responses from eligible Australians who choose to participate, comprising a response to whether or not the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.

Information from the Commonwealth Electoral Roll is provided to the ABS by the AEC in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The ABS will collect, use and disclose this information only in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Direction and the Census and Statistics Act.

This information will ensure that every eligible Australian has the opportunity to participate in the Marriage Survey by allowing the survey materials to be addressed to each elector at their address listed on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, and primarily delivered by mail.

Completed survey responses will be received by the ABS via paper, telephone and online options.

Once processed, information will be stored in two files:

  • A file containing only your electoral division and response to whether the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.
  • A file containing only the unique codes of survey respondents, which will be used to ensure that only one response is received for each eligible Australian and to calculate the proportion of people who have responded.

Personal details will never be seen or stored alongside the answer to the survey question.

Under certain circumstances, information to confirm your identity may be collected where you seek to access or correct the information the ABS or AEC holds about you, or request a new survey form or access code.

1 Electors within the meaning of the Direction consist of all persons registered on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll as at midnight 24 August 2017 who are aged 18 years or older as at 24 August 2017 and who are not serving a sentence of imprisonment of 3 years or longer

What do the barcodes on the survey material mean?

   

1. Barcode above address (located on the instruction letter):

The barcode shown above the name and address on the instruction letter is an Australia Post generated code. This code represents the Delivery Point Identification (DPID) which is a randomly generated, unique 8-digit number used by Australia Post to identify street addresses. This barcode is not used, or useable, for any other purpose.

2. Code along the left hand side of the materials:

The 'sequence number' located along the left hand side of the materials is simply a sequence of numbers, that do not contain any personal information, used as part of the printing and envelope insertion process. This allows the printer to identify a piece of paper in the event of a spoilt page or error during the print and envelope insertion process. If a form or instruction letter needs to be regenerated, this barcode allows the simple identification of what needs to be reprinted and is a critical process control component within the quality controls. The 'sequence number' also enables the insertion machine to identify and group together the correct instruction letter and survey form to be put in an individual envelope for each eligible Australian, resulting in a very efficient and automated process. This ‘sequence number’ is not used, or useable, for any other purpose.

3. Form ID (located on the survey form):

The barcode (or Form ID) on the survey form is used to link a specific form to an eligible Australian. It will be used for "mark-in" purposes only and is a single-use, anonymous code. No person who sees or has any access to any completed forms will know both the name of eligible Australians and the related single-use code.

As can be seen in the sample materials, the Form ID appears on the survey form, which has no other identifying information (such as a name or address) while the instruction letter only includes the name and address of the recipient and not the Form ID. This ensures that anyone with access to a completed survey form is unable to identify the respondent.

It is important that you do not include the instruction letter, or any other material that contains personal information, in the envelope with your survey response. This will ensure the anonymity of your survey response.

Who else will see my information?

The ABS has contracted certain service providers to support mail-out, collection and call centre operations of the Marriage Survey. The ABS may provide your personal information to these organisations, including name and address, if it is necessary in order for the contracted service provider to complete its work.

Contracted service providers will also receive your anonymous survey response, including via paperless options, and provide it to the ABS. Your personal information will continue to be protected in accordance with the Privacy Act at all times, and the contracted service providers are contractually bound to use this information for a specific purpose only and must destroy the information once the contracted work has been completed. The contracted service providers are also bound by confidentiality obligations to ensure that your personal information remains confidential.

Any organisations engaged by the ABS or the AEC (including any sub-contracted organisations) will only use Australian-based sites, and at no time will your personal information be disclosed to an overseas recipient.

Confidentiality

The ABS has taken a number of precautions in connection with the Marriage Survey to ensure that your personal information remains confidential. This includes using a unique code to ensure that no one can associate you with your survey response. A unique code will be applied to each survey form and paperless response so that survey responses can be validated by the ABS as being genuine, while also ensuring that each response does not identify a particular person.

As soon as is practicable, the ABS will separate the unique code from your survey response, which cannot be re-identified after that time.

The personal information that the ABS collects from you is covered by the secrecy provisions of the Census and Statistics Act. These provisions legally bind all ABS staff (including temporary employees) to protect your information.

The ABS will not disclose your personal information in a way that will enable you, or any other person, to be identified, except where an organisation providing a contracted service requires the information to provide its service. However, any other organisations, including government departments and direct marketing companies, cannot have access to personal information you provide in the Marriage Survey.

It is an offence for any past or present ABS officer to divulge, either directly or indirectly, any information collected under the Census and Statistics Act. The Act provides for heavy penalties (fines of up to $25,200 or imprisonment for up to 2 years or both) for anybody convicted of breaching this obligation.

Security, retention and destruction of personal information

All personal information collected by the ABS is collected and stored securely. Electronic and paper records containing your personal information are protected in accordance with the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework. The ABS manages your personal information in accordance with the Australian Government records management regime.

All information from the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, survey forms, images of survey forms, unique form codes and other information collected to confirm your identity, will be destroyed as soon as the work it is required for has been completed and will not be used for any other purpose outside of the Marriage Survey. This information will be destroyed no later than 60 days after the scheduled release of the survey results.

An exception to this destruction regime may apply where the information forms a body of evidence that may support the ABS in pursuing penalties against individuals for unlawful activities including, but not limited to, fraud.

The ABS will destroy all information in accordance with the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority and the relevant records authority (2001/00000540).

The ABS has established rigorous, independent third party assurances in addition to internal assurance processes to establish that all handling of personal information meets the requirements set out in this policy.

How about silent electors and members of the ADF and AFP who are registered with the AEC as deployed overseas?

The AEC and ABS have taken care to protect the privacy of silent electors, and members of the ADF and AFP who are registered with the AEC as deployed overseas.

If you are a silent elector or a registered ADF or AFP member, the AEC will use the information it holds to send you a survey form on the ABS’ behalf.

Like the forms of other eligible Australians, silent and registered ADF and AFP electors’ survey responses will contain a unique code and no personal identification.

The unique code will allow the ABS to validate that it is a legitimate response and associate the response with your electoral division only. At no time will the ABS be provided with the name, address, gender or age of any silent elector or registered member of the ADF or AFP. For this reason, silent electors and registered ADF and AFP members will be excluded from gender and age statistics produced regarding survey participation rates.

If you are a silent elector, or a member of the ADF or AFP who is registered with the AEC as deployed overseas, and you wish to update your details for the purpose of receiving a survey form, you should contact the AEC Hotline on 02 6271 4441. You may be required to provide information to confirm your identity to access or correct the information that the AEC holds about you.

Consequences for you or your community if personal information is not collected

Information from the Commonwealth Electoral Roll is collected by the ABS to provide all eligible Australians the opportunity to participate in the Marriage Survey. If the information is not collected, the process for inviting Australians to participate could be, or could be perceived to be, inequitable, incomplete or otherwise compromised. This could diminish the robustness of the statistics produced.

Completed survey responses are collected to publish statistics on:

  • a count of survey responses (‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Invalid’) nationally as well as for each electoral division, state and territory; and
  • a participation rate by age and gender nationally as well as for each electoral division, state and territory.

This information is essential to produce a quality and integrity statement for these published statistics.

Information to confirm your identity provides evidence that you are who you claim to be and is necessary to ensure that survey materials are only provided to the specific eligible Australian. If this information is not provided then the ABS may, at its discretion, decide not to action a request that you have made to us.

How to access personal information we hold about you and seek its correction

In accordance with the Privacy Act, the ABS may permit you to access or correct your personal information, where it is reasonable and practicable for the ABS to do so.

If you wish to update your details for the purpose of receiving a survey, you should contact the Information Line on 1800 572 113. You may be required to provide information to confirm your identity.

To request access to, or correction of, personal information collected in the Marriage Survey, contact the ABS Privacy Officer using the details provided below.

Please note that once the ABS has stored your survey response separate to your unique code, and destroyed the concordance which lists your identity and code, your response will not be identifiable and therefore the ABS will be unable to permit you to access or correct the information you have provided.

ABS websites

For further information about privacy and security of ABS websites and alternatives to our websites, see the ABS Privacy Policy section of the ABS website.

How to contact us

Our Privacy Officer will deal with your inquiries or complaints regarding privacy and can be contacted:

By email: privacy [at] abs.gov.au

By phone: 02 6252 7203

By post:
ABS Privacy Officer
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2617

How to make a privacy complaint

If you think we may have breached your privacy rights or our privacy responsibilities, a complaint should first be made to the ABS Privacy Officer using the details provided above. If you are not satisfied with how the ABS Privacy Officer handles your complaint, or the outcome reached, you may refer your complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Availability of this policy

If you wish to access this policy in an alternative format (e.g. hard copy), please contact the ABS Privacy Officer using the details provided above.

For information about how the ABS holds and uses personal information of employees, see the ABS Privacy Policy.

Independent Statement on privacy and the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

"The ABS has taken a strong ‘privacy by design’ approach to protecting the privacy of Australians in designing the Survey. I am satisfied with the range of privacy measures that the ABS has embedded into the design of the Survey and supporting functions. I am also satisfied that the mitigation strategies and response plans are effective and appropriate in the context of the Survey."

Independent Statement on privacy and the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

Malcolm Crompton AM, Managing Director, Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd; Privacy Commissioner of Australia 1999-2004

Online Enquiry Privacy Statement

The ABS takes every measure to maintain your privacy.

Use of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey online enquiry forms is voluntary and will enable the ABS and its agents to respond to a range of enquiries, including some circumstances where your identity may need to be determined to provide a response.

If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Information Line on 1800 572 113. Please note that if your enquiry requires the ABS or its agents to access, confirm or update your details, or to respond to you directly, it may be necessary to verify your identity by collecting your name, address, date of birth, contact details, driver's licence or passport.

Personal information you provide on the enquiry form will be used to support the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey operations only. The information you provide on this form will be destroyed as soon as the work it is required for has been completed, unless it may form evidence identifying fraudulent activities, in which case the ABS will retain the information for as long as is necessary to conduct an investigation.

For more information on how the ABS manages personal information, including how to complain to the ABS or make a request to access or correct your information, please visit www.abs.gov.au/privacy.