TSO08G and Department of Health (310590)

Application number:
Decision date:
Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011

TSO08G and Department of Health
(310590, 13 December 2011)


Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) - section 67 - refusal of access

Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) - schedule 3, section 8 - breach of confidence


The applicant applied under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) for access to a copy of an investigation report regarding a complaint he had made to the Department of Health (Department) about his medical treatment.  The Department granted the applicant full access to 141 pages and partial access to 10 pages, and refused access to two pages.  The Department refused access to information on two bases: (i) it comprised the personal information of other people; and (ii) disclosure would found an action for breach of confidence.  The decision was affirmed on internal review.


The applicant applied to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) for external review of the Department’s internal review decision.  During the external review, the applicant resolved not to pursue access to the personal information of other people and to pursue access only to the information subject to the breach of confidence claim.  This information appeared in parts of five pages and two whole pages of progress notes relating to the applicant’s hospital treatment.  


The applicant submitted that he has a right to know what other people said about him to the Department and that the information was incorrect and false.  He also submitted that disclosure would help him to further understand the treatment he received.  The Department submitted that the information was provided by individual/s in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence and was treated as confidential by health care providers.  The Department contended that disclosure would cause significant concern to the individual/s who provided the information and would constitute an unauthorised use of the confidential information.


The Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that all requirements to found an action for breach of confidence were satisfied, and that there was no evidence of an iniquity to set aside the necessary quality of confidence. On that basis, the Right to Information Commissioner decided that:


Ÿ          disclosure of the information in issue would found an action for breach of confidence;

Ÿ          the information in issue was exempt under schedule 3, section 8 of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act); and

Ÿ          therefore, access to the information may be refused under section 67 of the IP Act and section 47(3)(a) of the RTI Act.