Queensland’s Information Commissioner says right to information is a cornerstone of government accountability and transparency, with 87% of Queenslanders believing their right to access government-held information is important to them, according to findings in the 2019 Information Access Study.
Information Commissioner, Rachael Rangihaeata, said a supported culture of RTI and government agencies proactively releasing information to the public (the ‘push model’) helped to strengthen community trust.
The Information Access Study 2019 was conducted to measure community attitudes and awareness of the right to access government information and people’s experiences and outcomes in exercising that right.
Ms Rangihaeata said she found the survey results insightful but not surprising.
“In the lead up to RTI Day later this month, it’s encouraging to see Queenslanders are embracing their right to know and are actively participating in government. We live in a world with significant digital developments and increasing public expectations around transparency, so it’s important people remember RTI is a fundamental human right,” she said.
Four out of five survey respondents were aware of their right to access information held by at least one of the listed agencies:
- Queensland government agencies (73%)
- local governments (71%)
- public hospitals and health services (64%)
- public universities (36%)
- ministers (32%)
The survey also revealed seven out of 10 respondents who had attempted to access information in the last three years successfully gained access at least once.
“It was pleasing to see government agencies had encouraged those surveyed to access information in the least formal way possible. This is exactly what Queensland’s Right to Information laws encourage – the least formal ways are faster and more efficient,” Ms Rangihaeata said.
“Respondents also expressed a high interest in accessing government information and assistance online, which fits nicely with our 2019 theme for RTI Day: A click online saves time,” she said.
This year Queensland is celebrating 10 years of the Right to Information Act, with RTI Day being held on International Right to Know Day on 28 September 2019. As part of RTI Day celebrations, the OIC will join:
- Logan City Council and the Crime and Corruption Commission at a local government forum on 18 September
- Logan City Council at a community information booth at the Logan Hyperdome on 20 September
- Metro South Hospital and Health Service at a community information booth at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woollongabba, on 24 September
Ms Rangihaeata said the survey findings coupled with the OIC’s recent 10 years on report (which set out findings of almost 200 Queensland government agencies’ self-assessment of implementing good RTI and privacy practices) provide a clear way forward for shaping the next 10 years in Queensland’s RTI landscape.
“Having a better understanding of what Queenslanders think about RTI and coupling that with findings from the 10 years on report, show us exactly where we need to go, so Queensland agencies are best placed to meet changing community expectations.
“While the 10 years on report noted substantial headway had been made since the first audit in 2010, it also showed there was room for improvement on critical components like proactive release, publication schemes and administrative access,” Ms Rangihaeata said.
More information is available at www.oic.qld.gov.au/rtiday2019 and Queensland’s survey results can be found at www.oic.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/40336/2019-Survey-Presentation-QLD.pdf.