WAT and Department of Health

Application number:
1997 S0060
Decision date:
Monday, Aug 16, 1999

WAT and Cairns District Health Service (Department of Health)
(1997 S0060, 16 August 1999) 

The applicant sought access to all documents relating to herself in the possession of two doctors employed by the respondent.  The respondent was prepared to disclose to the applicant all documents in its possession which fell within the terms of her FOI access application, but sought the views of the Health Rights Commission (HRC) in respect of certain documents. 

The HRC objected to disclosure on the basis that the documents in question were created in the course of a conciliation between the applicant and the respondent, which was facilitated by the HRC in accordance with the conciliation provisions in the Health Rights Commission Act 1991 Qld.  The HRC claimed that the documents in issue were excluded from the operation of the FOI Act by the provisions of s.1l(1)(p), which provides that the FOI Act does not apply to the Health Rights Commissioner or a conciliator appointed under the HRC Act. In the alternative, the HRC argued that the documents in issue were exempt from disclosure under s.46(1) of the FOI Act. 

In accordance with the principles established in the Information Commissioner's decisions in A Member of the Legislative Assembly and Queensland Corrective Services Commission (1997) 4 QAR 99, and McPhillimy and Queensland Treasury (1996) 3 QAR 287, the Information Commissioner found that the documents in issue, being in the possession and control of the respondent rather than the HRC, were not excluded from the application of the FOI Act.  The Information Commissioner also found that the documents were not confidential from the applicant herself, since they related to a conciliation to which she was a party, and that they therefore did not qualify for exemption from disclosure to the applicant under s.46(1) of the FOI Act.