case note 2007 VPrivCmr 3 Case note Complainant AH v The Department  VPrivCmr 3 Disclosure of personal information (IPP2) – allegation that the Department disclosed personal information unrelated to an investigation being undertaken. Data security (IPP4) – allegation that the Department failed to take reasonable steps to secure the personal information from unauthorised disclosure. The Complaint The Complainant lived in a small country town and had been employed with the Department with many years of exemplary service. He became ill and was obliged to take leave from work. Shortly before commencing leave, an allegation was made against the Complainant that he had inappropriately used a departmental vehicle. In investigating the allegation, the Department’s representative visited the small country town and stayed with a friend who had also worked with the Department. At dinner with other local people, it was alleged that the Department’s representative disclosed details about the purpose of his visit, namely to investigate a serving staff member currently on sick leave. Although the Complainant’s name was not specifically mentioned, the Complainant believed that enough information was disclosed (within the small rural community) to enable his identity to be reasonably ascertained and therefore amounted to a disclosure of the Complainant’s personal information. The Complainant also believed that by disclosing information about him, the Department failed to take adequate steps to secure his personal information from misuse and loss, unauthorised access, or disclosure. The complaint was referred to conciliation where the Department acknowledged that information discussed by its representative could have amounted to a disclosure of personal information in the particular context. The Department further acknowledged the Complainant’s exemplary employment history, lack of substance to the allegations made about him, and feelings of humiliation, embarrassment and hurt as a result of its representative’s disclosure. To resolve the matter, the Complainant sought both an amount of compensation and to have his reputation restored within his small rural community. The complaint was conciliated on the following terms: • Compensation of $5,000 plus an additional $400 for expenses incurred in making the complaint and attending the conciliation meeting; • The Department hosting an event with media presence in the Complainant’s town to publicly acknowledge his exemplary employment history; • The Complainant to be presented with a Certificate of Service at the event. Comment The conciliation agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of non-financial outcomes to redress the complainant’s feelings of embarrassment and humiliation.