Community attitudes confirm importance of right to access information

News story
The cross-jurisdictional Information Access Study 2019 has confirmed community attitudes about access to government information
Image depicting someone accessing digital information

How the community views, and has experienced, access to government information has been revealed through a cross-jurisdictional Information Access Study 2019 (IAS).

Sponsored by Information Commissioners from NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Ombudsman from ACT, the research forms part of Australia’s Open Government National Action Plan 2018 – 2020 under the commitment to engage states and territories to better understand information access.

The IAS findings were positive with the importance of the right to access information consistently recognised across jurisdictions. In general, citizens have also been successful in obtaining information despite jurisdictional variations in legislation, with around 40 percent of respondents having contacted at least one government agency in the past three years for this purpose.

“The right to access information is fundamental to an open and democratic government and this study confirms how important it is to the community that this right is upheld,” WA Information Commissioner Catherine Fletcher said.

The survey revealed that WA-based respondents primarily access their information direct from agency websites. The types of information sought ranged from policies and procedures (60 percent of respondents), online services (54 percent) and information about decision making processes affecting the community (50 percent).

An open and accountable sector in which the community has confidence, or simply transparency and accountability, is one of the five themes of the Roadmap for Reform. The Roadmap outlines the program of work being undertaken to reform the public sector in response to the findings of the Service Priority Review, Special Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects, and two CEO Working Group reports.

To view the research findings refer to the joint statement made by the cohort of national Information Access Commissioners and Ombudsman.

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Page reviewed 7 November 2019
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