The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is currently consulting on a proposal to share death information with local authorities. Currently there is no automatic means that enables councils to know when a resident has died, and so it could be as haphazard as council staff checking the death notices in the local newspaper. Ultimately, the aim of this proposal is to make things a little easier for bereaved families by offering a joined-up government-wide approach.

The proposal itself is wider than sharing only with local authorities. Crown entities and certain types of societies and organisations will also be able to obtain the data under this proposal. The proposal would vary some aspects of the Privacy Act through an Order in Council and would allow for a more up-to-date electronic means of sharing information. We welcome the proposal, which could significantly improve processes in local government.

Under the proposal, death information would be shared via an Approved Information Sharing Agreement (AISA), with each entity, and therefore each council, would have to sign off with the DIA to obtain the data.

A requirement of the AISA is that councils will be required to state what the death information will be used for. There are many reasons why local authorities may need this data. For example:

  • rates
  • land ownership
  • unpaid infringement offences
  • social housing – houses can sit empty
  • cemeteries
  • updating permit holders 
  • dog ownership

This list is not exhaustive: there would be more uses of death information for local authorities.

Another requirement of the AISA is that the council will need to meet a number of security, information management, and privacy requirements. The Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) has resources which could assist the sector with security and information management guidance. You should email ALGIM if you don’t know your council’s ALGIM login data.

Costs for accessing this information have not been determined yet but would likely be on a cost recovery basis. Therefore, there will be fees for councils to access the data.

We encourage you to make a submission on this proposal. Read the press release and access the consultation, draft AISA and the Privacy Impact Assessment here. The consultation is open until 11 June 2021.

If you have questions about this please contact Susan Haniel, Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement.