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Data governance and privacy

As part of our investment approach, we are gathering information and data to better understand the needs and aspirations of vulnerable children, young people and families.

The data are protected by laws and other measures that guard privacy and keep the data secure, including a comprehensive framework of security controls and standards.


The NSW Human Services Data Set has been created by de-identifying and combining data collected through the administration of different NSW Government services and some Commonwealth Government supports (i.e. welfare and medical benefits). Information like names, dates of birth and addresses are removed to ensure the data do not identify individuals and privacy is protected. Therefore, the integrated data set contains completely anonymous records.

The data are protected by laws, controls, and standards which ensure that data are held securely, that only approved people have access, and that information is used specifically for our work. Data will be securely stored with NSW in the Data Linkage Centre and will be inaccessible to other teams and people.

Public Interest Directions

In order to build and operate the NSW Human Services Data Set, a request was made to the NSW Privacy Commissioner by the Minister for Family and Community Services, for the making of two Public Interest Directions (PIDs).

What are Public Interest Directions?

Under section 41(1) of the PPIP Act and section 62(1) of the HRIP Act, the Privacy Commissioner may make a public interest direction that exempts a public sector agency from the requirement to comply with one, or more information protection principles (IPPs), or health privacy principles (HPPs), or which modifies the application of an IPP or HPP.

Section 41(3) of the PPIP Act and section 62(3) of the HRIP Act provide that the Privacy Commissioner can only make a public interest direction where satisfied that the public interest in requiring the agency to comply with the IPPs or HPPs, is outweighed by the public interest in making the direction.

Their Futures Matter PIDs

The NSW Privacy Commissioner issued two Public Interest Directions (PIDs) which allowed for the creation of the NSW Human Services Data Set.

They were signed by the NSW Privacy Commissioner after approval was given by the NSW Attorney-General and NSW Minister for Health. The Information and Privacy Commission NSW has published the Their Futures Matter PID (PIP Act) and Their Futures Matter PID (HRIP Act) on their website.

The Directions govern the extent to which TFM and participating agencies may depart from the IPPs and HPPs for the purposes of the project. They contain a clear and defined approved purpose for which data can be disclosed, collected and used. TFM and participating agencies cannot depart from this purpose and maintain the modifications and exemptions granted. TFM reports annually to the NSW Privacy Commissioner on compliance with the Privacy Directions.

Privacy survey

TFM undertakes regular public opinion research regarding data privacy and the use of data collected by government. The results of a survey conducted in November 2018 demonstrate that the public have increasing levels of comfort when they are made aware that the data is for Government use, not identifiable, and the purpose is to assist vulnerable people.

  • 65% of respondents agree with government using de-identified data to assist vulnerable children
  • 73% of respondents expect that government agencies already share personal information. Only 7% suggested this was not the case, while one in five (20%) do not know or were unsure.

Data Governance

As an entity responsible for a large and unique cross-agency dataset, Their Futures Matter relies upon strong data governance to perform its functions effectively and maintain a trusted reputation amongst its many data providers, stakeholders and the general community.

A data governance framework outlines arrangements which apply to data, collected and/or enhanced in connection with TFM, collected on our behalf (for example under collaborative or contractual agreements), and data obtained from all external sources.

TFM and its contracted entities must comply with specific privacy, data sharing and records legislation, and with relevant NSW Government frameworks and policies.