Being a private eye for the people

By Melissa Coade

Friday July 9, 2021

Cassandra Vizza from the NSW Information and Privacy Commission.

On the Way Up

Cassandra Vizza is one of those hard-working public servants whose efforts help keep NSW government agencies compliant with privacy obligations and make the system robust. 

The senior regulatory officer is part of the NSW statutory authority known as the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC), where her role is to keep a watchful eye on privacy rights and the public interest.

“My day involves working collaboratively with my team of regulatory officers,” Vizza explains.

“We discuss complex review matters involving issues such as privacy rights and the public interest in certain information. My day also involves quality assurance, writing recommendations and guidance, as well as conducting my own reviews. 

As a Millennial who has grown up in a rapidly changing world, the transforming digital environment and new technologies are a common fixture of what Vizza understands to be ordinary. 

The 28-year-old studied privacy and cyber security subjects as part of her law degree at Macquarie University, and that is where she says she discovered a passion for information privacy issues. 

“Working for the IPC gave me the opportunity to continue to build my knowledge around this area of the law,” she says. 

“Additionally, I work on major projects which aim to assist NSW government agencies with their compliance obligations under both the information access and privacy legislation.”

Vizza is currently spearheading the development of guidance materials for a group of the NSW public sector to help bureaucrats make better decisions that contemplate their privacy obligations.

“The project has been running for around 12 months and involves working closely with both the information commissioner, executive and external stakeholders,” she says.

“I enjoy knowing that this project is likely to have a real and positive impact.”

The IPC is a small team with a large remit. The agency’s focus over the next 12 months will be to oversee the introduction of a Mandatory Data Breach Notification Scheme that will mean government agencies must report certain kinds of data breaches to the privacy commissioner and any affected individuals.

The privacy commissioners work closely with agency staff to share updates about new legislation, changing case law and policy, and will play a hand in helping regulatory officers like Vizza work through complex or niche privacy matters.

“As the IPC is a small office, there is a lot of cross team collaboration, information sharing and a focus on teamwork,” she says.

“I enjoy being a part of an agency whose work advocates and promotes an open and transparent government with the overall aim to protect the privacy and information access rights of NSW citizens.”

Vizza has worked with the IPC for two years now and she says that joining the public service was a conscious career choice after about seven years working for different commercial and family law firms. She describes her career with the IPC as ‘invigorating’ because it affords her the opportunity to see the good her work does for the community. 

“I decided that I wanted to switch gears,” she says. 

“The public service can be demanding with endless competing priorities. However, it is important to keep the purpose of your work front of mind. 

“It helps me to remind myself of the ultimate goal, that is, to deliver positive outcomes for NSW citizens.”

Cross-team collaboration is an important aspect of staying on top of your game in the public service, Vizza says, but there are also important self-development things people can do to improve their own skills and expertise. 

“Working with my fantastic colleagues allows me to continually learn from their knowledge and experience. In my job, you learn something new every day, whether it be through your own work or the work of others.

“I undertake a number of courses to ensure that my knowledge is up to date and current. For example, I have recently completed a Certificate IV in Government Investigations and I am currently in the process of enrolling in further cyber security courses at uni,” Vizza says.

“I also like to read current and new case law including decisions from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Courts and Appeal Panel. I enjoy staying informed of current affairs by reading any new daily news or articles which have an open government or privacy dimension,” she adds.


READ MORE:

NSW privacy commissioner encourages government agencies to make privacy a priority

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