30 September 2021
Information Access Commissioners and Commonwealth Ombudsman today released the findings of their second cross jurisdictional study of community attitudes on access to government information.
Commissioners from NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Ombudsman from the ACT, sponsored the research for a second time, having conducted their inaugural study in 2019.
The 2021 Information Access Study measures citizens’ awareness of the right to access government information, and their experiences and outcomes in exercising that right. The research provides a broad insight into citizens’ views and experiences of the right to access information. Key findings include:
This year, a number of jurisdictions also took the opportunity to ask respondents two questions regarding government’s increased use of data, algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence to inform decisions. It was found that:
Through enhanced understanding of community attitudes and experiences, the study’s results will help inform activities to promote and support the right to access government information.
The results will also enable governments to examine the performance of their respective access to information laws from a citizen perspective.
The right to access government information is independently overseen by the state, territory and commonwealth Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen. Participating jurisdictions released the following statement:
“The right to access information is a fundamental principle of an open and democratic government. The results of the 2021 study reinforce the continuing importance the community places on the right to access government information, and the duty of governments to promote and enable this significant right.
In a contemporary and increasingly digital environment agencies should adopt an Open by Design approach. By adopting an Open by Design approach, governments can ensure access, openness and transparency as we move increasingly to digital government and data informed decision-making.
The valuable insights provided in this second cross jurisdictional survey involving four Australian states and the ACT will assist in building a better understanding of information access frameworks. It reinforces commitments under the Open Government National Action Plans to better measure and understand the value citizens place on the right to access government information, and their experiences and outcomes.
The results will assist Information Access Commissioners and the ACT Ombudsman to encourage governments to promote access to government-held information. It will drive jurisdictions to continue their work to advance an effective and contemporary model of open government that supports public participation and is accountable and transparent.”
Elizabeth Tydd, Information Commissioner, New South Wales
Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner, Victoria
Rachael Rangihaeata, Information Commissioner, Queensland
Catherine Fletcher, Information Commissioner, Western Australia
Penny McKay, A/G Commonwealth Ombudsman, ACT
* The results recognise that the legislation varies in each jurisdiction with one jurisdiction (ACT) only recently introducing legislation to provide the right to information.
Media contact: Steven Haigh
Phone: (07) 3234 7373