OriginsInfocus April 2014

Privacy Law Update - Good News for Origins!

Australian Privacy Law changed on 12 March 2014 when the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 came into effect.  Major changes included a review of the definition of personal information and the creation of a set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).  The APPs replace the two separate sets of principles that previously applied to government and non-government organisations.

These changes are both necessary and, generally, welcome. They clarify previous confusion caused by different codes for different jurisdictions, and principles that applied to businesses were different to those that applied to government departments.  Moreover, developments in technology meant that the previous legislation was less relevant in protecting our interests.

For the past year or two, this has created an environment of considerable uncertainty for businesses in assessing the impact of the proposed changes.  Speculation has caused business development and compliance teams to become cautious, often adopting a position that is more risk-averse than might be necessary for legitimate and innovative business practice.

Consequently, initiatives with potential to deliver significant benefits for businesses and Australian consumers have been deferred or modified until such time when there is greater clarity around the intent of the legislation and its interpretation.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) - formerly, the Office of the Privacy Commission (OPC) - has developed guidelines to help organisations get to grips with the new law.  These were published in a revised form on 1st March 2014.  

The APP Guidelines outline:
  • mandatory requirements
  • the OAIC interpretation of the APPs
  • examples that explain how the APPs may apply
  • good privacy practice to supplement minimum compliance.
Privacy Scrabble2a OAIC banners 2014 law reform 10

As current users are aware, products and services offered by OriginsInfo use the Origins software to process first names and family names and make an assessment of the likely origin of those names - as separate elements, and in combination.

The uncertainty of the past couple of years, has led several clients and prospective clients to ask us about the privacy status of Origins data.  

In seeking a quality response OriginsInfo sought experienced independent legal advice, and had informal discussions with the previous OPC and the OAIC, the bodies charged with responsibility for the interface between Privacy legislation and the wider community.

OriginsInfo also consulted with the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) and conducted its own thorough review of the legislation and the guidelines.

The conclusion from this review is that Origins data does not constitute “personal information” within the meaning of the Act, and, according to proper statutory construction, the data is not therefore “sensitive information”.  Furthermore, the APP guidelines state explicitly that surnames do not constitute sensitive information.

The clarification will be welcome to those who have appreciated the insight given through Origins analysis, but have been cautious about using that insight to create appropriate communication campaigns that are targeted towards particular sets of customers or prospects.  

Whether through the use of Origins selections alone, or through the use of modelled scores, users can rest assured that there are no privacy impediments to the use of Origins data. 

Now is the time for the focus to shift to the positive opportunity of creating communications and images that will play their part in promoting greater inclusiveness and engagement with Australia’s multicultural communities – and better business outcomes through the use of more effective measurement and targeting.


Australia’s immigrant population has a long tradition of contributing to Australia’s food production, an industry worth around $27 billion annually.  In this issue of OriginsInsight we analyse the cultural backgrounds of regional food producing populations and question the impact on migrants of changes in the industry. Read more.

Events and News

Celestial City - Sydney's Chinese Story

The Museum of Sydney is hosting a major new exhibition exploring the pivotal role the early Chinese population played in shaping modern-day Australia. The exhibition celebrates the experiences and successes within the Chinese community and the legacy it has given Sydney which today has a strong and vibrant Chinese community today.

The exhibition is open from 29 March 2014 - 12 October 2014. More information

Victoria Multicultural Affairs Policy

The Victorian Government has launched a new multicultural affairs policy “Victoria’s Advantage – Unity, Diversity, Opportunity”. The policy outlines a set of indicators to measure the State’s progress in multicultural affairs. It focuses on three major themes: Maximising the Benefits of our Diversity; Citizenship, Participation and Social Cohesion; and Responsive and Accessible Services.

The Policy builds upon the principles and values outlined in the Multicultural Victoria Act 2011, recognising that a whole-of-government approach to multicultural affairs is required to maximise the vast opportunities and benefits a strong multicultural population brings.

The Policy sets governmental objectives and commitments to a multicultural population and identifies measurement indicators to determine Victoria’s success in multicultural affairs, citizenship and social cohesion and identifying emerging trends and issues. 

Origins' unique approach to measurement of cultural diversity and participation can make a clear contribution to setting benchmarks and appropriate targets.

As one of the most multicultural populations in the world, the Policy is designed to ensure that Melbourne’s diverse population is nurtured and protected into the future.

More information can be found here


With Easter around the corner we explore how different cultures celebrate this traditionally religious period. Read more

Did you know that until relatively recently people in Turkey didn’t have surnames? We reveal this interesting phenomenon in our first blog of our 'What’s In a Name?' series. Read more

This past weekend has seen the conclusion of the ICC T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Despite cricket being a very international sport with strong participation in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in particular, the Australian cricket team has had very limited diversity in its composition throughout time. Howzat? Read more

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