Application of sections 47(3)(c) and 50 RTI Act

Relevant considerations

1. Who is the applicant?

The application must be made:

  • by a child ('child' means an individual who is under 18 years); or
  • for a child.

2. Does the relevant information comprise the child's 'personal information'?

'Personal information' for the purposes of the RTI and IP Acts is defined in section 12 of the IP Act as:

… information or an opinion, including whether true or not, and whether recorded in material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.

See 'Section 12 IP Act' Annotation.

3. Would disclosing the relevant information be in the child's best interests?

Whether disclosure of the information is in the 'child's best interests' will depend on the nature of the personal information and the particular circumstances.1 Some factors that may be relevant to determining whether disclosure would not be in the child's best interests include:2

  • the child's age
  • the impact on the child's happiness, welfare and development and/or well-being.

If the application is made by the child, rather than for the child, section 50(3) of the RTI Act requires the agency or Minister to consider whether the child has the capacity to:

  • understand the information and the context in which it was recorded; and
  • make a mature judgement as to what might be in his or her best interests.

If the application is made for the child by their parent, it is relevant to consider whether the practical effect of disclosure of the information to the child’s parent as their representative would be contrary to the best interests of the child. For example, it may be contrary to the best interests of a child to disclose information to a parent acting on their behalf where disclosure could prejudice the privacy of that child or where the disclosure is likely to discourage the child from communicating openly with government agencies such as the police service or child safety officers.

1 (Unpublished OIC Preliminary View).
2 (Unpublished OIC Preliminary View).

Last updated: March 16, 2012