64.1 This chapter examines the special arrangements in place under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to allow for the use of personal information in health and medical research. TheAct currently provides for the use of personal information—including health information—without consent, for health and medical research, where the research is conducted in accordance with guidelines issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and approved by the Privacy Commissioner. These arrangements recognise that, in some circumstances, the public interest in allowing particular research projects to proceed outweighs the public interest in maintaining the level of privacy protection provided by the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs).

64.2 These arrangements are currently limited to the use of personal information for medical research under the IPPs, and the use of health information for research, or the compilation or analysis of statistics, relevant to public health or public safety under the NPPs. The following chapter considers whether these arrangements should be extended to include the use of personal information in other sorts of research, in areas such as criminology and sociology.