Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ungrateful? No way..We have been unable to thank you!

We've seen some big changes since the new Privacy Act commenced on 12 March 2014 and it has prevented us from thanking some of the most generous supporters of a great cause.

Earlier this month, Genevieve and I were involved in a fantastic fundraising event, Bail or Jail, to help raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. The amount raised in three hours was a staggering $35,000. We were completely overwhelmed by the support of the community and the number of callers who rang in to donate. 

Now, two weeks later, and after a number of attempts to obtain the list of callers, we have been told by different parties that privacy laws prevent the names being passed on. At the time of writing this we have still not been able to see who donated but we are waiting to hear the final verdict. No one understands why, or agrees that this should be the case, but it seems the onerous provisions and huge penalties have created so much risk for organisations that they need to tread extremely carefully. So from Genevieve and I, this is a huge THANKYOU to those that supported us and donated to the Leukaemia Foundation and helped bail us out!

The new Privacy Act is proving to be much tougher on businesses and now includes three additional Australian Privacy Principles, one of which covers the disclosure of personal information both for direct marketing and across the board. Data collection and storage is essential in all industries and ensuring it's done correctly is now paramount – the penalties are very heavy!

So what will this mean for us in the real estate industry?  

Privacy, and taking the appropriate steps to protect it, is extremely important to us. We have been reviewing our business practices to ensure we put privacy front of mind and that we are compliant with the Act, whilst also putting the needs of our clients at the top of our list.

We've already stopped collecting information at open inspections on paper. Toop&Toop record personal data straight into our patented software on iPads which stores the information securely on our computer servers. We are completely up and running in Sales (and Rentals is not far behind). Having bits of paper floating around the office (or in an agent's car) with client's names and numbers is no longer acceptable. We are committed to making the necessary changes in our business.

We have seen first hand with Bail or Jail the extent of the Privacy Laws and how far they seem to have come. One thing is clear.. the game has changed and taking steps to proactively protect privacy is a must.

Suzannah Toop

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