Privacy policy

Under the Privacy Act 1988, the Museum must have a privacy policy explaining how the Museum manages personal information.

This privacy policy describes the kinds of personal information we collect and hold, how we go about collecting that information and why we do so. It also outlines how a person may access information about themselves or seek correction of that information and how an individual may complain about a breach of an Australian Privacy Principle (APP).

Why the Museum collects personal information

The Museum collects and uses personal information to perform its statutory functions. These functions include developing, maintaining and exhibiting collections of historical material; conducting researching into Australian history; and providing information relating to Australian history through education and public programs.

What types of personal information the Museum collects and what it is used for

The Museum engages with a broad cross section of the public, both in Australia and internationally, through its activities. The personal information collected and used by the Museum are described below. Personal information is usually collected from the individual concerned although in some cases we may receive such information from third parties.

Museum visitor and client information

a. Museum customer relationship management system
The Museum maintains a database with contact details of individuals who regularly engage with the Museum or who wish to receive information about particular aspects of the Museum's activities. These include members of the general public, donors, Museum Friends, or people with a business-related interest in the Museum (for example, school teachers, people working in other cultural institutions, in the media or in tourism). The information is usually collected directly from the people who are interested in receiving the information or from a representative of their organisation. In the case of Friends' family memberships, name and date of birth information relating to minors is collected from their parent or guardian.

Personal information in our relationship database is used to:

  • distribute information about Museum events and activities;
  • maintain membership lists of Museum Friends;
  • retain details of object and cash donors, and (with their consent) to publicly acknowledge those donors;
  • maintain a record of respondents providing feedback about their Museum experience;
  • generate invitation lists for Museum events.

b. Bookings information
Bookings for functions, conferences, school visits and guided tours are regularly taken by the Museum. Normally only a limited amount of personal information is collected – for example, a nominated point of contact will be requested. The purpose of collecting this information is to ensure that an event or visit is properly coordinated. This information is not used for any other purpose (such as unsolicited marketing) without the consent of the individual concerned, however the information may be used to generate broad demographic data.

Visitors using Museum property such as wheelchairs or scooters are asked to leave a form of personal identification (or a photocopy of such identification) to ensure items are returned. Where photocopies are taken, they are only kept for the duration of the visit and, provided the items are returned undamaged, are disposed of immediately.

c. Visitor information and feedback
In order to improve its services, the Museum collects information from visitors about its programs. This information may either be solicited (for example, through visitor surveys) or unsolicited (such as letters or emails from members of the public). The majority of evaluation that is initiated by the Museum allows people to respond on an anonymous basis. Visitor surveys, which the Museum regularly uses to seek feedback from visitors, do not involve the collection of information which could lead to a person being identified although more generic information such as age and city of residence may be collected. Respondents have the option of providing their personal information to the Museum if they wish to join the Museum's Friends program or subscribe to a mailing list.

Where members of the public provide their personal information to the Museum in the course of making an enquiry or comment, that information will only be used by the Museum to deal with the person's enquiry or comment.

Personal information in the form of photographs of visitors is collected only with the consent of the person or their parent/guardian. The consent forms for photography also collect information regarding the name of the person in the photograph and their contact details.

Historical collection, exhibition and research information

The Museum collects personal information relating to objects in its collections and on loan to the Museum. This information includes details about an object's history, including its current and previous owners and other people connected with the object. The purpose of collecting this information is to assess an object's ownership and provenance prior to acquisition or loan.

Personal information about an object is obtained from a range of sources including from the donor/vendor and from historical records. The nature of this research is such that personal information is not always collected directly from the person to whom the information relates but from other sources such as third party oral or written histories, newspaper or magazine articles and so on.

Personal information may also be collected in the course of historical research conducted by the Museum and for the purposes of exhibition. Such information may not necessarily relate to an object in the Museum's collection. This information is maintained in a range of forms, for example in writing, as video or sound recordings, or photographs.

The Museum may collect limited personal information for the following purposes:

  • to facilitate the management (e.g. transportation and insurance) of an object;
  • to arrange physical access to the collection by researchers, family members, Indigenous community members or special interest groups; and
  • to respond to enquiries for historical information received from members of the public.

The Privacy Act only applies to personal information which is in a record. An exception to the meaning of a 'record' is anything kept in a library, art gallery, or museum for the purposes of reference, study or exhibition. Personal information which is kept for the purposes of reference, study or exhibition will not be subject to the Privacy Act. An example is photographs of individuals used in an exhibition, or letters containing personal information kept in the Museum's historical collection.

Personnel and administrative records

The Museum collects personal information about its employees, volunteers, interns, contractors, and Council or committee members. The purpose of collecting this information is to properly administer matters relating to a person's employment or duties at the Museum.

  • Employee records will usually include personal details (such as addresses, next of kin etc), bank account details, tax file number, employment history, medical checks, leave and salary records. Records may also be kept in relation to rehabilitation or worker's compensation claims, discipline or code of conduct matters, and performance management.
  • Volunteers provide the Museum with their name, address, employment history and driver's licence. This information is used to assess the suitability of people to become Museum volunteers.
  • Some personal information relating to suppliers and contractors is also collected. This may include information about catering, security and cleaning staff employed under a contract between the Museum and the service provider; performers; IT suppliers; consultants/advisors; and suppliers of products for the Museum shop. The personal information is collected and used for the purposes of managing the Museum's relationship with the contractor and for security purposes.

The Museum's website

The Museum has a corporate website and Museum-identified spaces on blogs and social networking sites such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The Museum's corporate website refers to this privacy policy and conditions of use statement, both of which are linked from the footer of every page on the website. The website provides online services requiring users to provide personal information: the submission of job applications, purchases made at the online shop, subscription to our e-newsletter and membership payment for our Friends program. Personal details are maintained on secure servers. From time to time the Museum also invites people to submit their comments, photos or stories via forms on the website. Although users are encouraged not to identify people, the stories may include some personal information. Whenever the Museum collects such stories, individuals are informed about the purposes for which their stories will be used (e.g. publication on the website).

The Museum's website uses cookies for the purpose of collecting statistical data, but does not collect personal information by way of these cookies.

Security records (including CCTV)

The Museum maintains security records in order to manage access to Museum premises, assets or information. These records relate to staff, volunteers, and contractors, and may include police record checks and National Security Clearances. Security ID Photos are used for identification and access control purposes.

The Museum uses closed circuit television (CCTV) systems to monitor and record activity in a range of publicly accessible locations throughout the Museum. The purpose of this monitoring is to provide a safe and secure environment for Museum staff and visitors and to protect the Museum's collections and exhibits from damage, theft or loss.

The images recorded by the cameras may include identifiable images of people visiting the Museum. These images are stored in a secure environment. Access to these recordings is limited. Where an incident has occurred warranting further investigation, the Museum may allow the recording to be viewed by people responsible for investigating the incident, both within the Museum and/or external investigative bodies or law enforcement agencies (such as the Australian Federal Police).

Signs have been placed at all public entrances to the Museum advising that the cameras are in operation. The Museum's Agency Security Advisor is responsible for the management of these records.

The Museum shop

The Museum's shop (which operates in the Museum building at Acton in Canberra and online) uses a secure electronic facility to process credit card transactions. The Museum uses a secured external credit card gateway. Customers may also leave their details in order to purchase items by mail order or to have items placed on hold.

The Museum shop may also collect personal information when items are purchased via the online shop accessed through the Museum's website.

Collection and storage of sensitive information

Sensitive information may be collected in relation to some employees. For example, employees may formally identify as a person of ethnic descent, or as having a disability. Health information (for example medical reports or certificates) may also be collected by the Museum where there is a worker's compensation or other health-related matter affecting an employee.

Criminal record checks are conducted on prospective staff members and volunteers with that person's consent. Results of those checks are reviewed by the Agency Security Advisor, then passed to a representative of the Human Resources area where they are securely stored.

Incident reports are required to be completed when a security incident, an injury or hazard has occurred or been identified. These reports may contain information, some of a medical nature, about visitors, volunteers and staff.

The Museum may hold information about a staff member's union membership if that person has authorised a deduction from pay for their union dues. There may be other records which would identify union members such as right of entry permits, email communication between union members, or where union delegates are represented on Museum committees.

How the Museum holds and protects personal information

Security of personal information is maintained in a number of ways. Where an electronic database containing personal information has been created, the Museum ensures that the database may only be accessed by people performing relevant functions. For example, employee records are only accessible by staff performing human resource functions.

The Museum's information technology systems are based on the high standards defined by the Australian Signals Directorate Information Security Manual. System access is granted to staff only on authority of an appropriate delegate, for the purposes of performing Museum work. Guidance is provided to staff about safeguarding electronic information (including the secure transfer of that information) in the Museum's information technology policies and procedures.

Hard copies of personal information are secured in commercial grade, lockable cabinets and are only accessed by staff who need the information to perform a particular task. The Museum also has a clear desk policy. Access to secure areas is granted only on authority of a person's supervisor where that person requires access to perform their job.

The Museum uses the Australian Government Security Classification marking system to identify physical records that contain personal and sensitive information. Disposal of paper records containing personal information is performed in accordance with the relevant disposal authority under supervision of the records management unit.

Disclosure of personal information

The Museum will not disclose personal information to anyone outside the Museum unless the individual concerned has given their consent, or disclosure is otherwise permitted by the Australian Privacy Principles. Examples of exceptions include disclosure being necessary to prevent a serious threat to a person's life, health or safety, or for law enforcement purposes.

Personal information held by the Museum will only be released to contractors where it is necessary for the contractor to perform their job. Examples include where a security company is responsible for administering security passes to Museum staff, or a third party (such as a mailing house) is contracted to distribute information. If personal information is given to a third party contracted by the Museum, the written contract will contain the appropriate privacy clauses recommended by the Privacy Commissioner.

How to access personal information or seek correction of information

A person may request access to their personal information held by the Museum or to seek correction of the information. The request should be made to the Museum's Privacy Contact Officer by mail, email or telephone.

Privacy Contact Officer
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: 02 6208 5000

The Museum will respond to a request within 30 days. Access will be given in the form requested by the person, unless it is impracticable to do so or where the Museum is required to refuse access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or other Commonwealth legislation. If the Museum decides not to grant access to personal information or to correct personal information, it must provide written reasons for the refusal.

How the Museum will handle privacy complaints

Where a staff member receives a complaint relating to the handling of personal information, that complaint must be referred to the Museum's Privacy Contact Officer for investigation. Alternatively, where a person has concerns about the way the Museum has dealt with their personal information they may contact the Privacy Contact Officer directly (see details listed above).

The Privacy Contact Officer will investigate the matter and determine whether the Museum has breached its privacy obligations. If the Privacy Contact Officer finds that there has been a privacy breach, the Director of the Museum will decide what remedial action should be taken. The Museum will aim to respond within a reasonable time of receiving the complaint.

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Museum's investigation of their complaint, they can complain to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, who is independent of the Museum. Contact details for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner are available on their website: