Territory Families has once again lost “sensitive” documents of potentially dozens of Territorians that were left in old filing cabinets the department gave to the Darwin tip shop to sell.
The department confessed to the serious privacy breach in a statement on Friday afternoon, but only after the stuff-up was publicly revealed on social media, and sources say they still don’t know what information has been disclosed.
The statement said staff became aware of the disclosure of sensitive documents on Monday, but for reasons unexplained did not publicly report the breach.
“The incident occurred as a result of an office refurbishment where excess or broken office cabinets were disposed of at the Shoal Bay facility,” an unattributed statement said.
“The agency became aware of the information loss on 11 October and the office cabinets were immediately secured and then searched to retrieve any documents.”
However, the NT Independent understands the Shoal Bay Recycle Shop sold some of the filing cabinets that contained the personal documents and have been helping to recover the files for the government.
The Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities also admitted they do not know how many Territorians have been affected by the unauthorised disclosure of personal information.
“TFHC offers its sincere apologies to anyone that is potentially affected,” the statement said.
It’s not the first time the department has lost sensitive files.
In 2017, the department committed a similar privacy breach by disposing of filing cabinets filled with documents at the Alice Springs tip shop.
Departmental sources told the NT Independent that privacy breach cost taxpayers in settlements paid out to people affected by the disclosure of personal information.
“They don’t even know what’s been leaked this time,” a source said.
“The last time it happened in Alice Springs there were dozens of payouts costing taxpayers tens of thousands.
“Theses are the people that look after our children. There needs to be need better integrity. Mistakes happen. But this is a fairly serious mistake and we’ve been down this road before. They clearly did not learn anything last time.”
It’s understood nobody will lose their job over the privacy breach.