NSW appoints full-time privacy commissioner

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NSW appoints full-time privacy commissioner
Samantha Gavel

Brings in health privacy executive.

The NSW government has made the role of state privacy commissioner a full-time position with the appointment of Samantha Gavel.

Gavel takes over from Elizabeth Coombs, who has been acting in the position part-time, or three days a week, for the past five years. Her term finished last November.

The state government indicated at the time that it intended to employ Coombs' replacement on a full-time basis following complaints by Coombs about resourcing.

Gavel is currently the national health practitioner ombudsman and privacy commissioner. She previously served as the private health insurance ombudsman for six years.

NSW attorney-general Mark Speakman said Gavel had "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".

Speakman said the government had decided to make the state privacy commissioner role full-time given the challenges to the security of personal information being raised by advancements in digital technology.

Gavel's appointment will need to be approved by the joint parliamentary committee on the ombudsman, the law enforcement conduct commission, and the Crime Commission.

Speakman thanked Coombs for her service.

“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,” he said in a statement.

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