This Corporate Policy is issued under the authority of the Commissioner and should be read together with the ACNC Policy Framework, which sets out the scope, context and definitions common to our policies.

Policy statement

  1. This policy sets out how the ACNC will handle the data that it holds in order to facilitate access and reuse while protecting individuals' privacy and respecting the secrecy provisions of the ACNC Act.
  2. This policy should be read in conjunction with:
    • Part 7-1 of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) (ACNC Act),
    • the ACNC's Privacy Policy (CP 12/04)
    • OP2015/01 – Protected ACNC Information
    • OP2018/01 – Bulk ACNC Data Sharing Disclosures
    • CP2012/02 – Collection and Use of Information
  3. This policy is concerned with the use of ‘data’, which should be distinguished from the broader term ‘information’. 'Data' means “facts or information to be used as a basis for discussing or deciding something”1. 'ACNC data' refers to facts and statistics generated, collected, maintained, or funded by the ACNC in a raw, or pre-interpreted, form, which will typically be useful for research or analysis purposes.
  4. ‘Protected ACNC information’ is defined in section 150-15 of the ACNC Act to mean information that:
    • was disclosed or obtained for the purposes of the ACNC Act; and
    • relates to the affairs of an entity; and
    • identifies, or is reasonably capable of being used to identify the entity.
  5. Therefore, depending on the context, ACNC data may also be protected ACNC information. However, it often will not be because it is not in a form that identifies, or is reasonably capable of identifying, a particular entity.

Principles

  • Principle 1: Recognise the value of ACNC data
  • Principle 2: Handle data appropriately
  • Principle 3: Encourage access to, and use of, ACNC data
  • Principle 4: Seek to meet requests for data

Principle 1: Recognise the value of ACNC data

  1. The ACNC recognises that data collected and held by government is a valuable national resource and is committed to facilitating access to and use of ACNC data by government, researchers, charities, and the general community.
  2. The ACNC will have regard to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's Principles on open public sector information in deciding when and how to release data. Consistent with these principles, the ACNC’s default position is that the data we hold should be open and accessible.

Principle 2: Handle data appropriately

  1. Some data held by the ACNC is protected by law, including the ACNC Act and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act). This data may not be used or disclosed except as allowed by legislation.
  2. When data is also protected ACNC information, the ACNC Act provides a limited number of situations in which the data can be lawfully disclosed.
  3. The ACNC must also comply with the Privacy Act. There are limitations on how the ACNC can use any personal information it holds. Personal information includes, for example, information about responsible persons, donors, beneficiaries and ACNC staff. ACNC data, for the purposes of this policy, generally refers to information which is either not about any individual, or has been anonymised. However, where that is not the case, we will be mindful of our obligations under the Privacy Act.
  4. The ACNC is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act). It will publish information, including data, as required by the FOI Act and the Information Publication Scheme.

Principle 3: Encourage access to and use of ACNC data

  1. The ACNC will actively seek to publish data that it holds in order to facilitate access and use.
  2. The ACNC will have regard to the Australian Government's web guide when publishing data and will seek to use formats and licences that present the lowest barriers to reuse.
  3. The ACNC will build relationships with potential users of ACNC data, including not-for-profit organisations and researchers, to support effective reuse of ACNC data.
  4. The ACNC will not generally publish data that it collects from stakeholders solely to help it to assess and improve its own performance, such as customer satisfaction surveys.

Principle 4: Seek to meet requests for data

  1. Where open publication of data is not appropriate, the ACNC will nevertheless attempt to meet reasonable requests for access to data. Whenever it is appropriate to do so, and permissible according to legislation, the ACNC will provide data without requiring a formal FOI request.
  2. The ACNC Act allows disclosure of protected ACNC information if the information has already been lawfully made available to the public (for example on the ACNC register) and the disclosure is for the purposes of the ACNC Act (s 150-50).
  3. When considering requests for such data, the ACNC will seek to provide data in accordance with s 15-10 (b) and (c) of the ACNC Act, which require the Commissioner to have regard to:
    • (b) the need for transparency and accountability of the not-for-profit sector by ensuring the public has access to information about not-for-profit entities and
    • (c) the benefits to be gained from providing information to the public about not-for-profit entities.

References

Version Control

Version Date of effect Brief summary of change
Version 1 - Initial policy 10/01/2014 Initial policy endorsed by Susan Pascoe on 01/01/2014
Version 2 – Amendment 03/11/2021 Minor changes. New template. Updates to terminology and hyperlinks.

1 - Source: Oxford Australian Dictionary