Historical records key to truth telling, information and privacy authorities say

By Melissa Coade

June 2, 2022

Angelene Falk
Australian information commissioner Angelene Falk. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The importance of historical records to Stolen Generations survivors and their families has been underscored by agency heads from information and privacy authorities across Australia.

Privacy commissioners from around the nation have promised a consistent approach to accessing records of Stolen Generations survivors. 

In a joint statement, the bosses from agencies including the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, the Australian Freedom of Information Commissioner, and several ombud agencies said they would be led by a document that has three action items. 

The action items consider approaches towards needs-based funding for Stolen Generations Survivors, developing a trauma-informed policy environment, empowered service delivery and healing.

The commissioners also acknowledged access to records formed some of the recommendations from the 1997 ‘Bringing them Home’ and 2021’s ‘Make healing happen: It’s time to act’ report. 

“[We] recognise the important role of historical records in truth-telling and sharing history, intergenerational healing, redress and reparations,” the commissioners said. 

“We are committed to working together with The Healing Foundation and stakeholders to champion timely, easy access to records through informal access schemes wherever possible, with formal access applications required only as a last resort.”

The commissioners said ongoing discussion about greater national consistency would be informed by the newly developed principles

The statement was signed by Angelene Falk, Leo Hardiman, Rachael Rangihaeata, Paxton Booth, Catherine Fletcher, Richard Connock, Wayne Lines, Stephanie Coleman, Sven Bluemmel, Rachel Dixon, Joanne Kummrow, Penny McKay, Elizabeth Tydd, Samantha Gavel, Peter Shoyer, Brenda Mongham, Anna Rickard and Katie Shepherd.

A list of the principles was published by the commissioners marking Sorry Day (26 May) last week.


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