Release of government data builds community trust, Information Commissioner says

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday September 17, 2019

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Queensland’s government agencies have helped strengthen community trust by releasing information to the public, according to the state’s Information Commissioner, Rachael Rangihaeata.

A recent study found 87% of Queenslanders believe their right to access government-held information is important. The survey was conducted to measure community awareness of and experience with their right to access government information. It coincides with the 10 year anniversary of Queensland’s Right to Information Act.

Rangihaeata said it was “encouraging” to see that Queenslanders had exercised their right to information and participated 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.

According to the survey, four out of five respondents were aware of their right to access information held by at least one of the listed entities, including state government agencies, local governments, public hospitals and health services, public universities and ministers.

Rangihaeata said respondents expressed a “high interest” in accessing government information and assistance online.

“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,” she said.

The survey also found that seven out of 10 respondents who had attempted to access information in the last three years had been successful at least once.

Rangihaeata argued that these findings, when combined with the Office of the Information Commissioner’s recent report into almost 200 state government agencies’ right to information practices, could help inform the state’s approach to information in the future.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

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