The COVIDSafe app is part of our work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Having confidence we can find and contain outbreaks quickly will mean governments can ease restrictions while still keeping Australians safe.
The new COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary. Downloading the app, as I have, is something you can do to protect you, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the quicker we can find the virus.
For detailed questions and answers about this app, see our COVIDSafe app FAQs.
What COVIDSafe is for
The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk. This reduces the chances of you passing on the virus to your family, friends and other people in the community.
State and territory health officials can only access app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information in their phone being uploaded. The health officials can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to quarantine or get tested.
The COVIDSafe app is the only contact trace app approved by the Australian Government.
How COVIDSafe works
When you download the app you provide your name, mobile number, and postcode and select your age range (see Privacy). You will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete installation. The system then creates a unique encrypted reference code just for you.
COVIDSafe recognises other devices with the COVIDSafe app installed and Bluetooth enabled. When the app recognises another user, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code. The COVIDSafe app does not collect your location.
To be effective, you should have the COVIDSafe app running as you go about your daily business and come into contact with people. Users will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running.
The information is encrypted and that encrypted identifier is stored securely on your phone. Not even you can access it. The contact information stored in people’s mobiles is deleted on a 21-day rolling cycle. This period takes into account the COVID-19 incubation period and the time it takes to get tested. For more, see Privacy.
When an app user tests positive for COVID-19
When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, state and territory health officials will ask them or their parent/guardian who they have been in contact with. If they have the COVIDSafe app and provide their permission, the encrypted contact information from the app will be uploaded to a highly secure information storage system. State and territory health officials will then:
- use the contacts captured by the app to support their usual contact tracing
- call people to let them or their parent/guardian know they may have been exposed
- offer advice on next steps, including:
- what to look out for
- when, how and where to get tested
- what to do to protect friends and family from exposure
Health officials will not name the person who was infected.
After the pandemic
At the end of the Australian COVID-19 pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the COVIDSafe app from their phone. This will delete all app information on a person’s phone. The information contained in the information storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.
Deleting the COVIDSafe app
You can delete the COVIDSafe app from your phone at any time. This will delete all COVIDSafe app information from your phone. The information in the secure information storage system will not be deleted immediately. It will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic. If you would like your information deleted from the storage system sooner, you can complete our request data deletion form.
Your information and privacy is strictly protected.
The Health Minister has issued a Determination under the Biosecurity Act to protect people’s privacy and restrict access to information from the app. State and territory health authorities can access the information for contact tracing only. The only other access will be by the COVIDSafe Administrator to ensure the proper functioning, integrity and security of COVIDSafe, including to delete your registration information at your request. It will be a criminal offence to use any app data in any other way. The COVIDSafe app cannot be used to enforce quarantine or isolation restrictions, or any other laws.