NSW officials to park out Sydney’s Central Station for Right to Know campaign

By The Mandarin

Tuesday September 25, 2018

Sydney, Australia – November 3, 2015: Commuters are walking at the main hall of the central train station of Sydney. It’s the rush hour so the hall is rather crowded. Sydney is the biggest city of Australia and it has an extensive train network.

If it was any other group staking out the concourse of Sydney’s Central Station with pamphlets and polished messages about the public having a “right to know” what the government is doing on their behalf, they’d be mistaken for a protest group.

But this isn’t a protest, it’s a celebration — a celebration of accountability, transparency and engagement for Right to Know Week.

New South Wales Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd will be leading the charge tomorrow from 7.30am as she and her team at the Information and Privacy Commission engage with the commuter crowds to help them exercise their right to know.

To break the ice, they’re bringing cookies and fruit.

“Citizens are shareholders and governments need to act responsibly to create value for their citizens through accountability, transparency and most importantly, engagement,” says Tydd.

“Right to Know Week NSW plays an important and active role in supporting NSW public agencies with their obligations in providing access to government information and data to the NSW community.

“Transparency and trust is key to open government and when working well it increases access to information and data, provides accountability and promotes public participation in government agency decision-making.

“I am delighted to be leading this year’s Right to Know Week NSW campaign in collaboration with our champions, including NSW public sector agencies, universities and councils.”

Training on offer to agencies

Coinciding with the celebration, IPC NSW is also launching its e-learning module Towards Open Government Information (TOGI) via a virtual event involving more than 10 NSW public sector agencies and up to 100 agency employees.

Selected officers will sit the 90-minute online course, the first comprehensive guidance to NSW Public Sector employees, bringing together information management responsibilities in one single training package, the commission advises:

“Participants will be taken through the basics of what government information is, their role in information management and the application of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). The module provides resources and guidance to promote better information management including information access, privacy, state records, digital and cyber security responsibilities. All participants will receive a certificate once all of the sections and assessments have been completed.”

Around Australia and New Zealand

Other jurisdictions are celebrating International Right to Know Day on Friday, September 28 … or a little earlier for New Zealand.

The NZ Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier and Privacy Commissioner John Edwards will be joined in conversation with Dr Kathleen Kuehn, a senior lecturer in digital media and author of ‘The Post-Snowden Era: Mass Surveillance and Privacy in New Zealand‘ for free lunchtime forum on tomorrow (September 26, 12pm-1pm local time) at the Wellington Rowing Club, Taranaki Wharf, Wellington. It will also be streamed live on the commission’s Facebook page with viewers encouraged to contribute questions for the panellists.

Australia and New Zealand’s Information Access Commissioners released a joint statement following a meeting in Sydney on September 20-21, focusing on open government and access to government-held information:

The community’s right to know is the foundation of open and accountable government. Access to the information and data held by government strengthens our democracy by promoting greater public participation and scrutiny and supporting better decision-making.

International Right to Know Day, held on 28 September, recognises citizens’ right to access this information and reinforces the importance of transparency in building trust in government. As Information Commissioners we strive to promote and uphold the fundamental right of citizens to access government information.

On #RTK2018, we encourage all government agencies across Australia and New Zealand to consider taking a proactive approach towards releasing information and documents.

We are also supporting information access officers in carrying out their very important role as part of the effective management of government-held information.

We invite you to join us in celebrating the right to know at one of the many #RTK2018 events to be held next week.

Co-signed by:

Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner

Peter Boshier, Chief Ombudsman, New Zealand (represented by Bridget Hewson, Deputy Ombudsman, New Zealand)

Elizabeth Tydd, Information Commissioner, New South Wales

Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner, Victoria

Rachael Rangihaeata, Information Commissioner, Queensland

Catherine Fletcher, Acting Information Commissioner, Western Australia

Wayne Lines, Ombudsman, South Australia

Richard Connock, Ombudsman, Tasmania

Jaala Hinchcliffe, Acting Ombudsman, ACT (represented by Paul Pfitzner, Senior Assistant Ombudsman, ACT)

Peter Shoyer, Information Commissioner and Ombudsman, Northern Territory

Information commissioners are using this annual event to talk with agencies and officials in their jurisdictions about their work and changes to the Freedom of Information landscape.

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