Privacy principles and ethics approval
This study is conducted under strict privacy guidelines and the oversight of organisational ethics committees.
The Privacy Act 1988 sets out 13 Australian Privacy Principles that govern agencies of the Australian Government in their collection, storage, use, disclosure and management of data containing personal information. The Privacy Act permits the handling of health information for health and medical research purposes in certain circumstances, where researchers are unable to seek individuals’ consent. This recognises the need to protect health information from unexpected uses beyond individual health care as well as the important role of health and medical research in advancing public health.
The Privacy Commissioner has approved 2 sets of legally binding guidelines, issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Researchers must follow these guidelines when handling health information for research purposes without individuals’ consent. The guidelines also assist Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) in deciding whether to approve research applications. The guidelines are produced under sections 95 and 95A of the Privacy Act, detailing procedures that HRECs and researchers must follow when personal information is disclosed from an Australian Government agency for medical research purposes, and providing a framework for HRECs to assess proposals to handle health information for health and medical research (without individuals’ consent). They ensure that the public interest in the research activities substantially outweighs the public interest in the protection of privacy.
This study is conducted under strict privacy guidelines and the oversight of organisational ethics committees. This study was approved by the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee (DDVA HREC) on 28 March 2018 (042–18). It was approved by the AIHW Ethics Committee on 8 May 2018 (EO2017/5/411).