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Navigating legislation and sharing safely

Legislation, standards and policies that ensure data security, privacy and integrity.

Victoria has legislation that allows data to be shared across government in a safe and secure way: 

  • Data can only be shared when it helps to improve policies and service delivery in the public interest.
  • Data sharing involves following strict privacy, data security and other specific information-sharing rules.

These requirements are supported by the Victorian Centre for Data Insights (VCDI) working closely with the Office of the Victorian Information Commission and Health Complaints Commissioner.

The Victorian Data Sharing Act

The Victorian Data Sharing Act 2017 (VDS Act) enables data to be shared across government while providing strong safeguards and oversight. 

The Act sets up the Chief Data Officer as the head of VCDI. The Act makes it easier for VCDI to access data for projects that respond to government priorities, particularly those with a whole-of-government strategic focus, and where cross-government data sharing is required and expected by the community. The Act also provides a legal pathway for departments and agencies to access identifiable data in order to integrate it with other datasets for analysis, in a way that works alongside existing privacy rules which still apply.

How the Act enables data sharing safely:

  • The Chief Data Officer has the power to request data held by departments and agencies for the approved purpose of informing policy making, service planning and design

  • Departments and agencies are required to respond within 10 business days with the data, or by providing written reasons for refusal

  • Departments and agencies can also access identifiable data to carry out data integration, to inform policy making and service planning.

  • Before any data is used for analytics, steps must be taken to ensure no individual can be identified from that data

  • There are offences for unauthorised data access, use or disclosure

  • VCDI reports annually to Victorian privacy regulators on its operations, functions and any privacy breaches

  • The VDS Act ensures accountability and oversight by independent authorities (the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner and Health Complaints Commissioner).

Guidance on data sharing in government

Victorian Data Sharing Act 2017 – Guidance for Victorian Government departments and agencies
PDF 774.86 KB
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Victorian Data Sharing Act 2017 – De-identification guidelines
PDF 975.79 KB
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Information sharing schemes

The Child Information Sharing Scheme allows authorised organisations and professionals who work with children, young people and their families to share information with each other to promote children's wellbeing and safety. 

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme allows authorised organisations that work with victims and perpetrators of family violence to share information with each other to in order to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators to account.

Legislation that applies to data sharing and use

Frameworks and standards for data sharing and use

Reporting on data security

All public sector organisations must undertake a range of activities to meet their reporting obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, including:

Ensuring secure and ethical data use

Standard operating protocols

Our standard operating protocols outline the process and framework for conducting data analytics projects - including the protection and control measures we must take for safe and ethical data use.

This ensures we are taking the required steps to protect the data we hold from misuse, loss and unauthorised access, modification and disclosure.

Assessing and mitigating risk 

We use a trusted data access and sharing model

We use the Five Safes Framework to assess and mitigate risk when we access, share and disclose data. This framework is also used by the Australian Bureau of StatisticsUK Data ServiceStatistics New ZealandSouth Australian Office for Data Analytics and Eurostat (European Commission).

The framework has five elements. We evaluate these independently and then analyse them together to measure the overall risk level for each project:

  • Safe Projects: is data to be used for an appropriate, authorised purpose?
  • Safe Data: is there a disclosure risk in the data itself (sensitivity and re-identification)?
  • Safe People: can those using the data (e.g. researchers and analysts) be trusted to use it in an appropriate manner?
  • Safe Settings: does the access environment (physical, technical, and procedural) prevent unauthorised data use?
  • Safe Outputs: are the analytical results non-disclosive (e.g. can individuals or groups be re-identified from a broader audience)?

This approach shifts the focus away from the data itself to how the data will be accessed, used and released.

We're guided by key data security and privacy principles

Our operating model, project model and technology platforms are based on the following principles:

  • Privacy by Design: this ensures that appropriate privacy protections are embedded into the overall design from the very start and built into all planning and design decisions. This model gives us a clear, layered, scalable privacy risk assessment framework that aligns with the Five Safes Framework. Privacy risks require a flexible, case-by-case risk management approach.
  • Defence in Depth: this ensures we have a series of layered defensive mechanisms to protect our data and information, including physical, technical, and people security. This approach aligns with the requirements of the Victorian Protective Data Security Framework and Standards and Five Safes Framework.


Community of Practice

The Data Analytics and Insights Community of Practice (Victorian public service only) brings together the latest news, toolkits, case studies and events to help you do your work better. To join the community, sign up and log in to the Innovation Network(opens in a new window).