7CLV4M and Department of Communities
(310676, 21 December 2011)
Schedule 3 section 12 of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) - whether disclosure of the name of a person listed as the birth father in adoption records is prohibited by section 314 of the Adoption Act 2009 (Qld)
The applicant applied to the Department of Communities (Department) under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) for access to information about her mother’s pregnancy and her adoption. The Department refused the applicant access to the name of the person the birth mother identified as the birth father in the applicant’s adoption records (Information in Issue) on the basis that its disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
Contrary to public interest
Assistant Commissioner (AC) Jefferies accepted that:
· the Department had correctly balanced the relevant public interest factors and that it was entitled to refuse access to the Information in Issue; and
· the decision was consistent with previous decisions of the Information Commissioner under the now repealed Freedom of Information Act 1992 (Qld).
However, AC Jefferies also noted that:
· the appropriate basis for refusing access was that the Information in Issue is exempt information rather than on the basis that disclosure is contrary to the public interest and that this approach was consistent with the scheme of the RTI Act
· when considering non-disclosure, the appropriate first step is to consider whether the information comprises exempt information; and
· only if it does not, is it appropriate and necessary to complete the steps set out in section 49 of the RTI Act to decide whether disclosing particular information is contrary to the public interest.
· the exception in Schedule 3 section 12(2) of the RTI Act did not apply because although the Information in Issue was the applicant’s personal information, it was also the personal information of the named person, as it comprised their name appearing within an adoption record
· the exceptions listed in section 314 of the Adoption Act did not apply.
For the reasons set out above, AC Jefferies decided that the Information in Issue comprised exempt information in accordance with Schedule 3 section 12 of the RTI Act.