94NNEZ and Department of Community Safety (310324)

Application number:
Decision date:
Monday, Nov 29, 2010

94NNEZ and Department of Community Safety
(310324, 29 November 2010)


Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) - exempt information - section 47(3)(a) and 48 - schedule 3, section 10(1)(i)


Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) - public interest factors - section 47(3)(b) and section 49 - schedule 4, part 2 items 7, 11 and 12 - part 3 item 3


The applicant applied under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) to the Department of Community Safety (Department) for an audio recording of a triple zero call that was made to the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) about her (Audio Recording) and any related documents.


The Department refused the applicant access to the Audio Recording under section 47(3)(a) and section 47(3)(b) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) on the basis that:


·       it comprised exempt information under section 48 and schedule 3 section 10(1)(i) of the RTI Act; and/or

·       its disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest under section 49 of the RTI Act.


The applicant indicated to the Office of the Information Commissioner that she knew who made the call to QAS and submitted that the caller provided false and misleading information about her.  The applicant explained that she was aggrieved that, as a result of the call to QAS, she was taken to hospital for a period of nine days and was ultimately assessed as not having a mental illness.  The applicant submitted that the procedures set out in the Mental Health Act 2000 (Qld) were not properly followed and that she has suffered great distress from the experience. 


The Right to Information Commissioner considered the principles in Ferrier and Queensland Police Service (1996) 3 QAR 350 and decided that:


·       releasing details about triple zero calls in circumstances where the caller wants to remain anonymous, could reasonably be expected to discourage people from making emergency calls in the future and have serious negative consequences for people who genuinely need emergency assistance from QAS

·       disclosure of the Audio Recording could reasonably be expected to prejudice a system or procedure for the protection of persons, property or the environment

·       the Audio Recording comprised exempt information under schedule 3, section 10(1)(i) of the RTI Act.


The Right to Information Commissioner also considered the public interest factors relevant in this case and decided that:


·       there was a public interest in the applicant accessing her personal information and in ensuring QAS is accountable for its actions taken against the applicant

·       the Department, having provided the applicant with the relevant QAS investigation report had satisfied the accountability interest in this case

·       no weight could be attributed to the public interest in revealing information that may be incorrect or misleading as there was no evidence of this in the Audio Recording

·       the disclosure factors are outweighed by the strong public interests in safeguarding the caller’s privacy and personal information and protecting QAS' ongoing ability to obtain information from members of the public requiring emergency services

·       on balance, the public interest favoured nondisclosure of the Audio Recording.


On the basis of the above, the Right to Information Commissioner affirmed the Department's decision to refuse access to the Audio Recording.