The new ServiceWA app is set to become an everyday tool to check in to venues and events, verify your COVID-19 vaccination status, check the latest related health information and apply for G2G passes.
There’s a lot riding on it, but it’s far from the simplest app to set up and has certainly attracted a wide range of comments on social media.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson conceded it was “fiddly” and recommended setting aside half an hour to set it up.
But is it straightforward? What happens to all that personal information? Who gets to see it? How is privacy protected? And what happens to the SafeWA app now? And what if it all still doesn’t make sense?
Let’s start at the beginning
The smartphone app includes the check-in features of the SafeWA app for entry into businesses, venues and events, and also allows you to import your COVID-19 digital certificate for proof of vaccination, or medical exemption, so you can enter certain venues and events, and when travelling into Western Australia.
It displays active and expired G2G Passes, for travel into the state, and allows you to apply for new ones.
Your proof-of-vaccination certificate can also be linked to this G2G pass section.
The new app provides links to, or information about, COVID-19 vaccination bookings, exposure locations, federal and state government assistance, managing COVID-19 at home, public health and social measures, where to get tested for COVID-19 as well as travel advice.
Ms Sanderson said the ServiceWA app was a free, convenient and secure mobile application.
“It allows West Australians to show proof of vaccination, check in with SafeWA at businesses and venues and access their G2G passes for interstate travel, all in one convenient place,” she said.
“Using the ServiceWA app means you won’t be opening multiple apps or carrying other forms of identification to enter venues and events. It’s all in one place.
The app also collects personal information about you, such as your name, phone number, where and when you have checked in, for COVID-19 contact tracing.
That information is sent to WA Health. Privacy information is listed below.
How do I sign up?
There are several steps involved and a fair bit of toing and froing between apps and sites. Some people have found this a tad frustrating.
Even the minister conceded it wasn’t straightforward but people need to make sure they have several forms of identity on hand so they can set up their digital identity using myGovID.
“It is a bit fiddly but there is huge benefit to getting this done now,” Ms Sanderson said.
If you don’t already have the myGovID app, download it.
That is so you can provide identity information such as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or passport to reach a standard strength level of ID needed for, and to be shared with, the ServiceWA app.
Then download the ServiceWA app and open it ServiceWA app, sign in and continue setting it up.
This will include sharing your COVID-19 digital certificate with the ServiceWA app for quick access into venues requiring proof of vaccination. You can do this using the Express Plus Medicare app, or your Medicare online account through myGov.
The certificate can also be linked to the G2G pass section on the new app.
Once the app is installed and the connections made, you will not need to log in each time you use it.
“This will make entering venues and events much quicker and more efficient, like the footy, music concerts and festivals,” Ms Sanderson said.
“And, importantly, using the ServiceWA app will make life easier for businesses and their staff.
“[With] the ServiceWA app, you won’t need to show identification with your COVID-19 digital certificate to enter businesses and venues like you would with a certificate stored in your digital wallet or [with a] hard copy.
“This is because you use a digital identity to set up the ServiceWA app. Your digital identity helps you prove who you are online, meaning the app is safe, secure and not accessible by anyone else.
Can I keep using the SafeWA app if I haven’t got the new one?
You can continue using the SafeWA app if you choose, but it will eventually become out of date and the ServiceWA app already includes SafeWa check-in features.
The state government intends to add more services to ServicesWA, including driver’s licence renewals.
“This will be part and parcel of people’s everyday business,” Ms Sanderson said.
How will proof-of-vaccination requirements on the app be enforced?
Ms Sanderson said police would conduct spot checks and other government agencies would also be involved in checks.
“But, ultimately, it is a shared responsibility of patrons and venues to take reasonable steps to provide that information,” Ms Sanderson said.
And, if you provide false or misleading information, you can be fined or prosecuted.
Mr Dawson said there would be $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who sneak in or give their phone to a friend, or a $50,000 fine for fraudulently breaching an Emergency Management Act direction.
What about privacy?
Personal information on the app related to SafeWA check-ins is only supposed to be disclosed to WA Health for COVID-19 contact tracing.
That information is protected by legislation passed through the West Australian Parliament last year, preventing police accessing it, even with a warrant.
The law was introduced after police accessed information from the SafeWA app as part of investigations into criminal matters.
Vaccine commander Chris Dawson said the ServiceWA app had “world-leading encryption”.
“It’s got features in it which have very good security, very good privacy, this sort of information will not be accessible to, for instance, police,” Mr Dawson said.
“It is for health purposes only.”
Police will, though, continue to access the G2G information.
David Glance, director of the University of Western Australia’s centre for software practice, was not concerned about the app’s security.
“I don’t think the amount of information they’ve collected for this particular app is that extensive, so I think most people should be reassured that it’s actually not that bad,” Dr Glance said.
The SafeWA check-in information will be stored in Australia for 28 days, although it may be stored for longer in a “limited case”, such as when someone at a venue tests positive for COVID-19.
Can similar interstate apps be used in WA?
Mr Dawson said interstate travellers would have to use the ServiceWA app.
“But there is compatibility,” he said.
“We use the same digital download information as the Commonwealth. It’s very easy to actually upload if you’ve got a compatible digital download already through your myGov account.”
Still having issues?
There are online videos and fact sheets on the wa.gov.au site.
If you’re still stuck, email firstname.lastname@example.org or try calling the helpline on 13 33 92.
And, if the SafeWA app was too much for you in terms of your technological ability or interest, then you might want to skip this app and get a paper vaccination certificate from your doctor.
Either way, good luck.