Jackson and Department of Health
(210820, 10 February 2010)
Section 40(c) of the FOI Act – matter concerning certain operations of agencies
The applicant, an employee of the Department of Health (also known as Queensland Health) (QH), sought access to information related to his employment. The matter in issue comprises a summary of findings made in respect of a grievance lodged by the applicant which appeared in an investigation report.
QH claimed that the matter in issue was exempt from disclosure under section 40(c) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (Qld) (FOI Act) on the basis that its disclosure could reasonably be expected to:
· provoke further hostility in an already volatile work environment which was showing gradual signs of settling
· make staff reluctant to cooperate in future investigations and/or compromise their duty to report, provide comment on and / or follow up on matters of importance
· make staff lose confidence in the processes for the investigation and resolution of grievances.
Assistant Commissioner Henry considered the requirements of section 40(c) of the FOI Act and decided that as:
· the applicant no longer worked in the relevant unit
· the relevant events which led to the hostile working environment occurred some time ago
· the matter in issue was not detailed and did not reveal information provided by other employees during the course of the investigation, nor did it relate to grievances lodged by other employees
· the matter in issue was limited to a summary of outcomes in respect of the five allegations made by the applicant
· QH’s claim that disclosure of the matter in issue could reasonably be expected to have an adverse effect on its management or assessment of its personnel was not reasonably based.
Assistant Commissioner Henry also noted:
· the relevant principles in Pemberton and The University of Queensland (1994) 2 QAR 293 and Villanueva and Queensland Nursing Council; A Midwife (Third Party); Talbot (Fourth Party); Gordon (Fifth Party) (2000) 5 QAR 363 regarding the public interest in a complainant being given an adequate explanation of the outcome of a grievance lodged by them
· the applicant stated that he was unaware of whether any parts of his grievance were substantiated and had not been advised of the outcome of the investigation into his grievance
· QH had not provided the applicant with the grievance investigation findings, decision or reasons for decision as required by its grievance resolution policy.
In summary, Assistant Commissioner Henry found that the matter was not exempt from disclosure under section 40(c) of the FOI Act as disclosure of the matter in issue could not reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the management or assessment of QH’s personnel.