It will never happen to us: The likelihood and impact of privacy breaches on health data in Australia

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


IOS Press


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Computer and Security Science / eHealth Research Group




This article was originally published as: Williams, P. A., & Hossack, E. (2013). It will never happen to us: The likelihood and impact of privacy breaches on health data in Australia. In Health Informatics : Digital Health Service Delivery - the future is now! : Selected papers from the 21st Australian National Health Informatics Conference (HIC 2013. (pp. 155-161). Amsterdam, Netherlands IOS Press. Original article available here


With the recent introduction of the Australian e-health system, health reforms and legislation were passed. Whilst the aim of these health reforms was reasonable and sensible, the implementation was rushed and less than perfect. The Deloitte e-health Strategy [1] which was endorsed by the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission (NHHRC) recommended that based on international experience implementation of shared electronic health records nationally was a ten year journey. In Australia this was condensed into two years. The resultant effect has been that privacy, which is essential for the uptake of technologies to share data in a compliant manner, may be compromised. People trust transparent systems. Where there is a breach in privacy people deserve the respect and right to know about it so that they can mitigate damages and with full disclosure, retain their trust in the system. If this is not evident, the public will refuse to share their information. Hence, whilst the technologies may work, their use may be limited. The consequence of this in Australia would be the continuance of dangerous and inefficient silos of health data.