Vaccine passport concerns

UPDATE 1 October: The Secretary of NSWCCL met with representatives of the Department of Customer Services yesterday (31 Oct 21) and received assurances about some of the matters raised in our letter.

Significantly the vaccination certificate as part of the Service NSW check in tool (QR code) is just one option to use as entry to hospitality venues and events. For example, vaccinated residents of NSW will be able to show the vaccination certificate on their phone and use paper alternatives. It is envisaged that the venue will only register a tick without any sensitive health information being imparted.

Medical exemptions will be catered for and children under 16 will not require any evidence for entry to venues otherwise accessible by them.

Other assurances were given in regard to certain privacy safeguards including non-retention or collection of data which will only be held on the personal device and the temporary nature of the scheme. Push of data from the Australian Immunisation Register remains of concern, however detailed information about the scheme will be available next week for greater scrutiny ahead of its introduction.

At the National Cabinet meeting on 17 September 2021 all states and territories agreed to include people's COVID-19 vaccination status in their check-in apps, meaning the apps will act as vaccine passports. 

NSWCCL understands that this system of vaccine passport is currently being trialled in regional NSW.

We wrote to Victor Dominello, Minister for Customer Services raising concerns about the lack of public consultation and transparency involved in this development.

NSW residents were assured that check-in app data would be used solely for the stated purpose of contact tracing - it should not now be used for another purpose. Making things simple for the hospitality sector should not involve privacy intrusions.

Any passport system that's developed should:

  • Only contain the necessary information (ie name & date of birth for identification, plus date of second vaccination).
  • Be enacted via primary legislation, with a proper privacy policy and sound privacy safeguards in place.
  • Cater to those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated and those who do not use smart phone technology.

More information: read our letter to the Minister