Almost 1300 asylum seekers could receive up to $20,000 each in compensation from the commonwealth following a serious data breach.

The Department of Home Affairs was found to have interfered in the privacy of 9251 people in detention when it mistakenly published their personal information online in 2014.

The report and spreadsheet contained people's full name, date of birth, period of immigration detention, location, boat arrival details and reasons why the individual had been considered an unlawful non-citizen.

It was available on the department website for at least eight days and on an online archive for 16 days.

Australia's information and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk has ordered the department pay compensation for non-economic loss to almost 1300 people who gave evidence of loss or damage as result of the breach.

Compensation for non-economic loss may range from $500 to more than $20,000 depending on the severity.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk said the compensation recognises that a loss of privacy or disclosure of personal information may impact individuals. Picture: Kym Smith
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Angelene Falk said the compensation recognises that a loss of privacy or disclosure of personal information may impact individuals. Picture: Kym Smith

Under the compensation categories, people will be awarded:

  • $500-$4000 for general anxiousness, trepidation, concern or embarrassment
  • $4001-$8000 for moderate anxiousness, fear, pain, suffering, distress or humiliation which may cause loss of sleep, headaches and result in going to a doctor
  • $8001-$12,000 for significant or prolonged anxiousness, fear, pain, suffering, distress or humiliation which may cause psychological or other harm and require medical treatment
  • $12,001-$20,000 for the development or exacerbation of a mental health condition resulting in a referral to a mental health specialist for treatment
  • $20,000+ for extreme loss or damage resulting from the data breach

Ms Falk said the payments, determined case-by-case, should be made within 12 months.

"Where the department and the class member do not agree on the assessed amount of compensation, the department may reassess the amount of compensation and seek agreement from the participating class member or their representative," she said.

The former Department of Immigration and Border Protection wrote to class members in March 2014 to apologise for the disclosure.

Solicitors have also demanded that the department reconsider rejected protection visa applications of class members affected.

However, Ms Falk said she did not have the power to make that recommendation.

The federal government was contacted for comment.

Originally published as $20k compo for asylum seekers


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