Geary and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency(310392, 12 September 2011)
Section 67(1) of the IP Act – Grounds on which access may be refused
Section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act – Grounds on which access may be refused
Section 49 of the RTI Act – Contrary to public interest
The applicant applied to the Queensland Nurses’ Council (QNC) for information “which raises concerns about…” the applicant’s health and conduct. QNC released all documents in the applicant’s professional standards file except a two page file note and a copy of relevant CCTV footage.
On internal review, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), being the national body which QNC merged with on 1 July 2010, upheld QNC’s decision to refuse access to the file note and CCTV footage on the basis that their disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to public interest.
During the course of the external review, AHPRA agreed, following consultation with Queensland Health, to release some routine personal work information contained in the file note to the applicant. However, AHPRA maintained that disclosure of the remaining information contained in the file note and the CCTV footage would, on balance, be contrary to public interest.
Accordingly, the information under consideration (Information in Issue) comprised:
· the remaining information in the file note which is limited to:
o information relating to the identity of the notifier
o personal opinions held by the author of the file note regarding collateral issues (including staffing); and
· relevant CCTV footage.
After carefully considering all of the relevant information, Right to Information Commissioner Mead was satisfied that:
· the remaining information in the file note is not the relevant ‘complaint’ and contains no information about the actual incident involving the applicant
· disclosure of the information in issue:
o would disclose personal information of third parties (which is not routine personal work information) and could reasonably be expected to cause a public interest harm
o could reasonably be expected to prejudice the protection of those third parties’ rights to privacy; and
o is, on balance, contrary to public interest under sections 47(3)(b) and 49 of the Right to Information Act 2009.