Section 47(3)(b), section 47(3)(c) and section 89 of the Right to Information Act 2009(Qld)
The applicant applied to the Department of Health (QH) for access to the medical records of his infant son. In its decision, QH refused the applicant access to the information found responsive to his application under section 47(3)(c) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) on the basis that its disclosure would not be in the best interests of the child. The applicant then sought external review by the Information Commissioner of QH’s decision.
Submissions made by the applicant during external review showed that the applicant had not intended to make an application on his child’s behalf and that QH had processed the access application incorrectly. The Information Commissioner also found that section 47(3)(c) did not apply in this review as QH had failed to discharge its onus under section 89 of the RTI Act which requires the agency to show why disclosure of the information in issue would not be in the child’s best interests.
On external review QH, provided an alternative basis for refusing access to the information in issue. That is, that disclosure of the information in issue would be contrary to the public interest under section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act on the basis that
· much of the information in issue related to the child’s neonatal care and was not within the categories of information that a parent may need to make health care decisions for a child
· release of information concerning feeding difficulties experienced by the applicant’s son would be invasive of the child’s mothers’ privacy.
In setting aside QH’s decision the Information Commissioner found that release of the information in issue would not be contrary to the public interest under section 47 (3)(b) of the RTI Act because
· neither of the factors favouring non-disclosure of the information in issue identified by QH carried any weight in the circumstances of this case
· the public interest in enhancing government accountability is significant where release of information may ensure that public confidence in the health system is maintained.
Accordingly, the Information Commissioner found that the information in issue should be released to the application pursuant to section 44(1) of the RTI Act.