BY JORDAN FERMANIS
Last week Waverley Council residents who had taken part in the submissions to save the Bondi Pavilion were notified via email that personal information including names and email addresses had been leaked.
The alleged breach in privacy has been seized upon by residents as further evidence of the council’s inadequate consultation with the community.
In a statement obtained by City Hub, a Waverley Council spokesperson said that the council apologies and is working to remedy the error.
“Last week, Council staff sent an email update about the Bondi Pavilion project and inadvertently included the email address details in the cc field. We sincerely apologise for this error. Everyone affected by this received an email from Council explaining and apologising for this error.
Council holds important responsibilities under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act to protect personal information. We are taking every step to ensure this error does not happen again,” the spokesperson said.
Kilty O’Brien of the Save our Pavilion campaign told City Hub that residents are outraged that their personal information was not handled more carefully.
“People have taken it quite seriously around here. They have taken complaints to council and the Office of Local Government.”
“People are engaging on a confidential basis. There’s now hundreds of emails, names of people who have given them on a confidential basis that are available to all,” Ms O’Brien said.
Ms O’Brien said that the council had sent a “we’re sorry” email a couple of days later but had heard little else.
“We will be asking how much of rate-payers money will be wasted on this consultation process when you have such amateurish mistakes.”
“We think it is an example of the mismanagement surrounding the whole process. And just the lack of thought and care around the $38 million Waverley Council has done to privatise the Bondi Pavilion,” Ms O’Brien said.
Speaking to City Hub, Greens Waverley Councillor Dominic Wy Kanak said that he had made a formal request to the General Manager to strengthen privacy processes to ensure another disclosure does not occur.
“My response to the community concerns about the privacy breach are with the General Manager. And ask him whether or not there had been a formal breach of the legislation that surrounds how councils and government organisations take care of people’s private and personal information. But I haven’t got a response back from the General Manager on those issues yet.”
“I’ve asked him [the General Manager] to ensure that such an incident does not reoccur and that our internal information handling policies strictly conform with the state and federal legislations regarding privacy.”
“I’m not happy that such a process occurred and I’m asking the General Manager to strengthen our information handling policies to make sure that we conform with the state and federal legislation,” Mr Wy Kanak said.
Issues around the mismanagement of the privacy breach have spilled over into community concerns over preserving the existing theatre in the Bondi Pavilion and not repurposing the space for commercial interests.
Di Smith, a Bondi local, actor and producer, told City Hub that the community is not in support of the current proposal and that Mayor Sally Betts is rushing the development through council.
“The whole plan needs to be looked at again. The community has gone to great lengths to submit 720 submissions to the Mayor at the time that plan was put forward. She keeps using her casting vote to push this thing through when the community doesn’t want it to happen.”
“The NSW government and the council have $7 million to upgrade the building. The plan in place looks like it is going to cost $38 million. So our argument is they should be leaving the theatre where it is, it is a much more cost-effective method,” Ms Smith said.
In response to these concerns Waverley Council has said that the new theatre will be a “huge improvement” to the current building.
“The proposed theatre on the ground floor will be a huge improvement in the cultural capacity of the new building, and places culture front and centre at Bondi. It would be a state of the art theatre with new technology to support drama, film, music and other performances; and supported by a control room, green room, dressing room, workshop space, box office and bar.
Council is currently holding further consultation and engagement period until 23 September and we encourage everyone to have their say,” the spokesperson said.