New NSW Privacy Commissioner named

By David Donaldson

June 22, 2017

Samantha Gavel has been named to take over as New South Wales Privacy Commissioner from Elizabeth Coombs, the state government announced on Wednesday.

Gavel is currently the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner, and was previously the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman for six years.

“She has extensive experience in raising awareness about privacy rights, investigating complaints, resolving disputes and helping agencies meet their obligations to protect the personal information of individuals,” said Attorney General Mark Speakman.

Her proposed appointment, which will need to be considered Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and the Crime Commission, follows an independent recruitment process conducted by the NSW Public Service Commissioner.

Gavel has also held senior policy roles within NSW and Commonwealth government organisations. She is an experienced mediator and an independent member of the Private Health Insurance Code of Conduct Compliance Committee.

Speakman thanked Elizabeth Coombs for her work as privacy commissioner over the last five years and for acting in the position since her term expired in November.

“Dr Coombs’ impartial advice and advocacy on privacy represents a substantial contribution to this growing area of the law. I thank her for her commitment and passion and I wish her well in her future endeavours,” Speakman said.

“The NSW Government recognises the importance of privacy protection at a time when advancements in digital technology are continually raising new challenges to the security of personal information.

“That’s why the government is now making the Privacy Commissioner a full-time position and, subject to the outcome of the Joint Parliamentary Committee process, I look forward to Ms Gavel applying her considerable expertise for the benefit of this state.”

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