The personal data of 8,500 employees at The Department of Social Services was breached - and left open - from June 2016 to October 2017.
The data included names, phone numbers, emails, passwords, and credit card information. According to Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, the breach demonstrates the risks of outsourcing work on sensitive material to private contractors.
The data breach was revealed in a report by The Guardian today, which details a letter send out to employees past and present.
Senator Siewert has accused the Federal Government of "continually looking to outsource and privatise Department and Centrelink services."
"And here is another example of the associated risks," Siewert said in a statement. "8,500 employees past and present have now been warned their personal data has been breached."
According to Senator Siewert, handing sensitive material to private contractors "who do not have the same checks and balances" means that breaches are more likely to occur.
Senator Siewert has also critised the Federal Government's action on the issue.
"Rather than see these incidences as a red flag, the Government is pushing on with privatisation, recently announcing they will hire more privately contracted staff to prop up the robo-debt scandal," Senator Siewert said. "I have no doubt that sensitive material will change hands and clearly this puts the confidential details of Australians at risk."
Staff need to be hired within Centrelink, Senator Siewert says, and must be "appropriately trained to protect personal data of staff and the community".