This article was brought to my attention and I feel that it warrants a reply on behalf of the Program and its staff rather than allowing this type of accusation to sit unchallenged without any proof of fact.

The Fox Eradication Program takes confidentiality of personal information very seriously and does not disclose personal information without authority. Personal information is certainly not distributed by the Fox Eradication Program to the media.

I regard the accusation published in this article as extremely serious and, if it was based on fact, a breach of the Personal Information Protection Act 2004.  As Manager of the Fox Eradication Program, I expect high standards of conduct and probity from my staff and I strongly encourage any person in possession of evidence that personal information has been released to third parties to report this to the Tasmanian Ombudsman.

Community involvement and support is important for any program like this.  Equally, it is crucial for the success of the fox eradication effort that all information relating to possible fox activity in Tasmania is reported. This information is vital in allowing the appropriate responses to be initiated.

It is extremely disappointing that some in the community would make accusations that question the integrity of staff working in the Fox Eradication Program. This type of blogging does nothing to add to the value and quality of the public debate on the strengths and weaknesses of the Program and its unfortunate that some people feel the need to publish unsubstantiated claims.  The Fox Eradication Program has been the subject of numerous independent reviews and the staff working on it have been acknowledged for their professionalism and dedication in the face of often intense public scrutiny. It is also disappointing that some in the community would seek to ridicule those who step up and take responsibility for reporting information that relates to the serious threat foxes pose to the Tasmanian wildlife and environment.

The Fox Eradication Program appreciates the nearly 3000 members of the community that have provided vital information through the FOX OUT hotline since 2002. That information has helped inform the management decisions that ensure we are working towards a fox free Tasmania. 

All members of the community are asked to be vigilant and immediately report all fox sightings and any possible evidence of fox activity to the FOX OUT hotline on 1300 369 688 (1300 FOX OUT).

Anyone making a report to the hotline can be assured that their personal information will be treated in strictest confidence and will not be distributed to any other agency, individual or third party without authority. Any concerns in relation to this can be directed either to the Ombudsman’s office or directly to me.

Craig Elliott
Manager, Fox Eradication Program
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
PO Box 46, Kings Meadows, Tasmania 7249

This comment was first published on this article: Fox watch on chicken coop: Is this a serious breach of privacy?. Comment below or on the original article.