Are Nanny Cams Legal in Australia?

If you have a nanny, au pair or caretaker who watches your kids, maybe you’ve considered setting up a nanny cam. For those with elderly parents in aged care facilities, it's possible that the thought has also crossed your mind in light of findings from the aged care Royal Commission.

Whether you’re looking for a specific activity or just want an extra eye on your family, there’s one important question to ask before setting up any hidden or indoor cameras in your home: Is it legal to own a nanny cam in Australia? The short answer is yes. But it doesn’t stop there.

When are nanny cams illegal?

It's not illegal to own a nanny cam, but how you use it is another story.

It’s important to know when nanny cams are considered illegal and how you can record happenings in your home legally without breaching the trust of your caregiver.

Surveillance and privacy laws differ between states and territories, but generally speaking, nanny cams are illegal when . . .

They violate a reasonable expectation of privacy

If you’re going to set up a nanny cam in your home, hidden or otherwise, don’t put it in areas where your nanny or anyone else has a reasonable expectation of privacy like bathrooms or bedrooms.

It is legal to record video (and that means only video, no audio) in common areas of your property (like the kitchen or lounge room) as long as your intent isn't malicious (i.e. your aim is to protect your family or property) and that recordings are kept private unless required by relevant authorities as evidence.

They violate recording consent laws

Every state and territory in Australia has laws on the books prohibiting the use of a listening device (like a nanny cam) to record private conversations without the consent of all people involved. The only exceptions are Victoria and Queensland, which allow one-party consent as long as that person is participating in the private conversation. Furthermore in Victoria, it is legal to record a conversation in which you are not participating, as long as you obtain consent from at least one person who is.

If you’ve ever heard “this conversation may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” before a phone call, that disclaimer comes from these same laws.

These consent laws also restrict publishing and showing unauthorised recordings obtained by hidden devices.

Essentially, that means you need consent from anyone who enters your property (including nannies, tradespeople, cleaners and any other contracted workers) to record audio in your home. This can come in the form of a sign, a line in a worker's contract, or a simple conversation.

These rules aren’t just about your relationship with your kids’ caretaker. If you don’t follow the laws in your area, any footage you record might not hold up in court, or worse, the person on camera could sue you.

When are nanny cams legal?

Now that we know a little more about the laws surrounding surveillance devices, you might be wondering in what circumstances nanny cams are legal. Though the laws differ throughout Australia, you can be confident that you are using a nanny cam legally when . . . 

Your nanny or caregiver has given their consent

Even if you live in a one-party consent state or territory, it's best to err on the side of caution and ask your nanny for consent. If they don't give their consent and you proceed to record them, you would be committing a crime.

Your are using your nanny cam to monitor your property or a pet

Despite their name, nanny cams are versatile little things that can be used for much more than keeping an eye on your children's caretaker. Because nanny cams are generally small and cheap, they're great for other purposes like monitoring mischievous pets, checking the kids got home safely, or watching out for intruders.

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Final word

To simplify things, just tell your nanny or caregiver if you’re recording audio and video at home. It sets the expectations from the beginning and makes the whole “you’re being watched” thing feel less icky. Likewise, if they don't give their consent, respect their decision.

After all, you’re trusting this person with the people you love, so be sure to show them a little trust from the start.


Disclaimer
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Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon

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