This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Social media policy'.


Our reference: FOI 2016/3820 
Mr James Smith 
By email:  
Dear Mr Smith 
Your request for information – FOI 2016/3820 
I refer to your email of 18 April 2016 seeking access under Freedom of Information Act 
 (FOI Act) to: 
  ‘Current social media policy of the department, which covers departmental use 
and/or private use by employees in an individual capacity.’ 
  ‘Any current guidance material which is available for employees to make informed 
decisions about their private social media use.’ 
On 21 April 2016, I released under administrative access a link to Comcare’s social media 
policy on our website. In this email I asked if this information satisfied your request. 
In an email dated 30 April 2016, received by FOI on 2 May 2016, you replied, asking FOI: 
  ‘if any information exists which is relevant to personal use of social media by 
Comcare employees?’ 
I am authorised under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions on access requests and 
this notice sets out the decision on your request. 
Searches undertaken 
Comcare conducted thorough searches of its systems and I am satisfied that the documents 
relevant to your request have been identified.  
Please find attached to the email by which this notice has been sent, the documents 
relevant to your request. The documents are: 
1.  Technology Common Use Policy - version 1.1 dated 20 November 2013  
2.  News item for Comcare’s internal staff, ‘Privacy settings on social media’ dated 26 
February 2016 

For completeness, I have released Comcare’s full Technology Common Use Policy rather 
than just the social media section (15.2). Our searches did not identify any other documents 
as being relevant to your request. 
Summary of Decision 
The decision is to release both these documents with redactions made to personal 
information that may reasonably be used to identify other people. That information is 
exempt from disclosure under section 47F of the FOI Act.  
The legislative background and the reasons for applying the exemption are detailed in the 
decision record at Attachment A to this notice. 
Timeframe for processing your request 
The statutory timeframe for processing an FOI request is 30 days from the date the valid 
request is received by an agency. Comcare has taken 2 May 2016 (the date on which your 
email was received by Comcare) in which you amended the scope of your request as the 
new valid date. Therefore the due date for a decision on your request is 1 June 2016. 
On this occasion, Comcare has not applied charges for processing your request.  
Review rights 
Should you not be satisfied with this decision, there are avenues of review available to you. 
Please refer to Attachment A for information concerning your review rights. 
Should you wish to discuss any aspect of this notice, please feel welcome to contact me 
preferably by email to, or on telephone 1300 366 979. 
Yours sincerely 
Kaytlin Patrick 
Freedom of Information 
A. Decision Record 
B. Review Rights 
C. Technology Common Use Policy v1.1 
D. News item – Privacy settings on social media 

The information on which the findings of material questions of fact are based: 
a)  your request, received by Comcare on 2 May 2016 
b)  the information identified as being within the scope of the request 
c)  the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner 
d)  discussions with internal staff, and 
e)  the FOI Act. 
Section 15 – Requests for access 
You have exercised your right under section 15 of the FOI Act to request access to 
documents. Section 15 relevantly provides:  
(1)  A person who wishes to obtain access to a document of an agency or an official 
document of a Minister may request access to the document. 

Section 3 and Section 3A – Objects of the FOI Act 
Sections 3 and 3A of the FOI Act concern the objects of the Act and state the reasons for 
giving the Australian community access to information held by government.  
I have had regard to these objects when making this decision. In summary, the objects of 
the FOI Act are:  
a)  to give the Australian community access to information held by government 
b)  to promote Australia’s representative democracy by increasing public  
participation in government processes  
c)  to promote Australia’s representative democracy by increasing scrutiny,  
discussion, comment and review of government activities  
d)  to increase recognition that information held by government is to be managed  
for public purposes and is a national resource  
e)  to ensure that powers and functions in the FOI Act are performed and exercised,  
as far as possible, so as to facilitate and promote public access to information,  
promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost. 


Section 47F – documents affecting personal privacy 
Section 47F conditionally exempts a document to the extent that its disclosure would involve 
the unreasonable disclosure of personal information about any person (including a deceased 
Personal information 
Personal information is defined in section 4 of the FOI Act and is the same as the definition in 
the Privacy Act 1988
personal information means information or an opinion about an identified  
individual or an individual who is reasonably identifiable: 
  a)    whether the information or opinion is true or not; and 
  b)    whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or   
The elements of ‘personal information’ are: 
i.  it relates to a natural person (not, for example, a company) 
ii.  it says something about the individual 
iii.  it may be in the form of an opinion, it may be true or untrue, and it may form part 
of a database 
iv.  the individual’s identity is known or is reasonably ascertainable using the 
information in the document. 
The information includes third parties’ names and direct contact numbers. I am satisfied that 
each of the documents over which an exemption under section 47F is claimed contains third 
parties’ personal information. 
Disclosure unreasonable 
If information is personal information, it will be conditionally exempt if disclosure would be 
‘unreasonable’. In considering whether disclosure would be unreasonable, section 47F(2) of the 
FOI Act requires that I take into account: 
i.  the extent to which the information is well known 
ii.  whether the person to whom the information relates is known to be (or to have 
been) associated with the matters dealt with in the document 
iii.  the availability of the information from publicly available sources, and 
iv.  any other matter I consider relevant. 
I am satisfied from the nature of the information that the information in question is neither 
well-known nor publicly available. I have considered the circumstances in which the information 

was recorded, and the reasonable expectation of confidentiality that would have been held by 
the third parties who are the subjects of the information.  
On the basis of the above considerations, I have concluded that disclosure of third parties’ 
personal information would be unreasonable. 
The public interest 
Conditionally exempt matter must be released unless, in the circumstances, access to that 
document at this time would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest (section 11A(5) of 
the FOI Act). As the Information Commissioner’s Guidelines state at paragraphs 6.8 – 6.9: 
The term ‘public interest’ is necessarily broad and non-specific because what constitutes 
the public interest depends on the particular facts of the matter and the context in 
which it is being considered. 
 To conclude that, on balance, disclosure of a document would be contrary to the public 
interest is to conclude that the benefit to the public resulting from disclosure is 
outweighed by the benefit to the public of withholding the information. The decision-
maker must analyse, in each case, where on balance the public interest lies, based on 
the particular facts of the matter at the time the decision is made. 
I have considered the factors favouring access and factors that are irrelevant, in sub-sections 
11B(3) and (4) of the FOI Act. In balancing the public interest in this case, I have considered 
the following factors for and against disclosure: 
Factors in favour of disclosure 
  promoting the objects of the FOI Act 
  facilitating access to information to members of the public 
Factors against disclosure 
  could reasonably be expected to breach the personal privacy of individual third 
  protecting individuals from unreasonable interferences with their privacy 
I acknowledge that there is a public interest in documents of Comcare being made 
available to the public for the purpose of encouraging public debate and to promote 
oversight of Comcare’s activities. I do not consider that disclosure of the personal 
information of third parties would facilitate any of these objects. 
In this case, I have formed the view that the disclosure of the personal information would make 
a negligible contribution to those factors in favour of disclosure. There is no, or minimal, public 
interest in this information being known. By contrast, the interference with an individual’s 
privacy is, in my view, significant and I have concluded that disclosure would, on balance, be 
contrary to the public interest. 

Taking into account the above matters, I consider that disclosure of third parties’ personal 
information is, on balance, contrary to the public interest. Accordingly, I have determined that 
third parties’ personal information is exempt under section 47F of the FOI Act. 
Freedom of Information 

If you are dissatisfied with this decision, you have certain rights of review available to you. 
Firstly, under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply for an internal review of the decision by 
Comcare. Your application must be made by whichever date is the later between: 
  30 days of you receiving this notice; or 
  15 days of you receiving the documents to which you have been granted access  
An internal review will be conducted by a person other than the original decision-maker. No 
particular form is required to apply for review. An application for a review of the decision can be 
addressed or emailed to: 
Freedom of Information 
GPO Box 9905 
If you choose to seek an internal review, you will still have a right to apply to the Office of the 
Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for a review of Comcare’s internal review decision. 
Review by the Australian Information Commissioner 
Alternatively, under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may seek review of this decision by the 
Australian Information Commissioner (IC) without first going to internal review. Your application 
must be made within 60 days of you receiving this notice. 
The IC is an independent office holder who may review decisions of agencies and Ministers under 
the FOI Act. More information is available on the OAIC website: 
You can contact the IC to request a review of a decision in writing or via email: 
GPO Box 5218 
Sydney NSW 2001 
Complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman  
You may complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about any action taken by Comcare in 
relation to your request. The Ombudsman will consult with the OAIC before investigating a 
complaint about the handling of an FOI request. 
Your enquiries to the Ombudsman can be directed to: 
Phone: 1300 362 072 (local call charge)  
There is no particular form required to make a complaint to the Ombudsman. The request should 
be in writing, set out the grounds for investigation and identify Comcare as the relevant agency.