RLN and Health Quality and Complaints Commission
(210826, 9 November 2009)
Section 11(1)(pa) Act not to apply to certain bodies etc.
Section 28A Refusal of access – document nonexistent or unlocatable
The applicant applied to the Health Quality and Complaints Commission (Commission) for all documents the Commission used to review her complaint to the Commission about the medical treatment she received from a health care provider.
The internal review decision-maker decided to affirm the original decision to:
· provide full access to 264 documents retained on an ‘assessment file’
· provide partial access to 4 documents retained on an ‘assessment file’, refusing access to the documents in part under section 44(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act)
· refuse access to documents on a ‘conciliation file’ due to the operation of section 11(1)(pa) of the FOI Act.
The applicant applied for external review on the basis that the Commission had not provided her with all of the documents relevant to her application.
In order to facilitate the applicant’s access to information, during the course of the review, the Commission provided the applicant with documents located on the ‘conciliation file’ which the applicant had either provided to the Commission, or which had been sent to the applicant in the course of the conciliation process.
The applicant sought access to the following documents:
· the remainder of the conciliation file (Conciliation Documents)
· a decision of the Medical Assessment Tribunal under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 and associated documents (Second MAT Decision)
· letters from the Commission to the applicant dated 8 February 2002 and 14 February 2002 (Lotus Notes Documents).
Having considered the relevant law, the submissions of the participants, information obtained from other sources, and the relevant files retained by the Commission, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies varied the decision under review.
In relation to the Conciliation Documents, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies found, relying on the participants’ submissions and a review of Commission’s files, that the Conciliation Documents were received, or brought into existence, by the Commission performing its conciliation functions under part 6 of the Health Rights Commission Act 1991. Accordingly, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies found that access to the Conciliation Documents was refused due to the operation of section 11(1)(pa)(i) of the FOI Act.
Having considered the participants’ submissions, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies sought confirmation from Q-COMP as to whether a Second MAT Decision had been made. Having received confirmation from Q-COMP that no Second MAT Decision had been made, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies found that access to the Second MAT Decision was refused under section 28A(1) of the FOI Act on the basis that there were reasonable grounds to be satisfied that the Second MAT Decision and related documents did not exist because they were not created.
In relation to the Lotus Notes Documents, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies sought information from Queensland State Archives in relation to agency obligations to retain documents under the Public Records Act 2002 and from the Commission in relation to the Commission’s document retention and disposal practices. Taking into account the Commission’s electronic searches and search of the applicant’s complaint file, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies found that the Commission had taken all reasonable steps to locate the Lotus Notes Documents, but they could not be located.