Under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, relevant employers provide to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (Agency) information in respect of six gender equality indicators. This information forms a detailed dataset that paints a comprehensive picture of gender equality across relevant employers. This data set is public sector information (PSI), that is, data, information or content that is generated, collected, or funded by or for the government or public institutions.
Australian Government policy is that PSI is a national resource and releasing as much of it on as permissive terms as possible will maximise its economic and social value to Australia and reinforce its contribution to a healthy democracy.
The Government has outlined eight Principles on open public sector information. These principles are non-binding on government agencies, however, the Agency recognises the importance of making its PSI publicly available and is committed to making its PSI as accessible and usable as possible, subject to the relevant legislation and Agency policies outlined below.
Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (WGE Act)
In accordance with sections 13C and 14 of the WGE Act, personal information as defined by the Privacy Act 2012 and remuneration information provided to the Agency by relevant employers in their public reports cannot be published, or used in a report to the Minister, by the Agency except where:
- in the case of personal information disclosed as such by a relevant employer in writing at the time of lodging its public report, the individual to whom the information relates consents in writing to the publication or use
- in the case of remuneration information, the relevant employer has, by written notice given to the Agency, agreed to that information being so published or used or if the information is in aggregated form that does not disclose, either directly or indirectly, information about a specific relevant employer or another specific person.
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act)
The Agency is subject to the FOI Act that provides every person with a legally enforceable right to obtain a document of an agency, other than an exempt document.
Any request by a third party to access remuneration information (other than at an aggregated level which does not identify an individual or employer) will be refused under s 45 of the FOI Act. This section relates to documents containing material obtained in confidence in circumstances where certain criteria are satisfied.
In these circumstances, the Agency may also rely on the public interest conditional exemption s 47F which relates to personal information provided on a confidential basis on the understanding that it will not be made publicly available and s47E(d) that relates to certain operations of agencies (this is where a document is conditionally exempt if its disclosure under the FOI Act would or could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency).
Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act)
The Privacy Act defines personal information as 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 not.
Relevant Agency policies
Under this policy, the Agency only discloses personal information to third parties (including other government departments) in the following circumstances:
- where the individual is reasonably likely to have been aware, or made aware, that their personal information is usually passed to the relevant parties
- where the individual has consented to the disclosure of their personal information
- where the Agency believes on reasonable grounds that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the individual’s life or health or that of another person
- where the disclosure is required or authorised by or under law
- where the disclosure is reasonably necessary for the enforcement of criminal law or law imposing a pecuniary penalty, or for the protection of public revenue.
Also, under this policy, remuneration information provided to the Agency by employers is confidential. Employer-specific remuneration data will only be disclosed publicly by the Agency if it is in aggregated form, if the employer providing the data requests in writing that the Agency disclose the data and if the data does not disclose, directly or indirectly, information about a specific person. This policy provision imposes an obligation on the Agency which goes beyond that imposed by section 14 of the WGE Act.
How the Agency will share information provided to it by relevant employers
Subject to the legal and policy requirements outlined above, the Agency will:
- aim to make information collected from relevant employers publicly available in the year it is collected
- publish public reports submitted to the Agency by relevant employers (after the removal of personal and remuneration information) on www.wgea.gov.au
- share an aggregated dataset via http://data.wgea.gov.au and through www.data.gov.au. This dataset will use a minimum group size of five individual organisations
- make available company-specific aggregated data from reports submitted to the Agency (excluding personal and remuneration information) to approved research bodies or persons subject to appropriate contractual arrangements.
The default licensing condition for the Agency’s data is Creative Commons BY standard, as recommended in the Intellectual Property Principles for Australian Government Agencies.