Right to Information
The Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) provides members of the public with the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers.
The Department of Justice is a public authority under the Act.
The Act aims to improve democratic government by:
- increasing the accountability of government;
- increasing the ability of the public to participate in government decision making processes; and
- acknowledging that public authorities collect information for and on behalf of members of the public
- authorises and encourages routine disclosure of information held by public authorities without the need for requests or applications;
- authorises and encourages active disclosure of information held by public authorities in response to informal requests without the need for applications;
- gives members of the public an enforceable right to information held by public authorities; and
- provides that access to information held by government bodies is restricted in only limited circumstances which are defined in the Act.
The Act provides that information may be released to the public through the following methods:
Required disclosure is disclosure required by law, including under an enforceable agreement. Examples include the requirement to publish an annual report or a decision made under legislation.
The Department of Justice, as well as a number of statutory bodies for which the Department is responsible, must publish annual reports. These can be accessed through the Department's Publications webpage.
Routine disclosure is the disclosure of information which a public authority decides may be of interest to the public. Examples include discussion papers in relation to proposals for law reform, statistical information, information about the programs, policies and services the Department delivers or the Department's Gifts and Benefits Register. This information can be accessed through the Department's Routine Release of Information webpage.
Active disclosure is the disclosure of information in response to a request made other than by way of a Right to Information application. An example is the provision of information to a member of the public in response to a letter.
Assessed disclosure takes place as a result of a formal request through a right to information application. Assessed disclosure of information is a last resort as the Act requires the Department to put processes in place to make information freely available through required, routine or active disclosures.
Information sought though a right to information application might already be public or the Department may release information without proceeding to a formal assessment under the Act.
All information must be disclosed, unless it is exempt information as defined by the Act. Further information on exemptions is contained in the Ombudsman’s Manual.
Information released in response to a right to information application deemed to be in the broader public interest will be published on the Department's Disclosure Register.
For further information on making a formal request, visit the Department's webpage on how to make a right to information application.
Personal Information Protection Act 2004
In certain circumstances, it may be possible to seek access to personal information which the Department holds about you through the Personal Information Protection Act 2004.
It is recommended that you contact the Department to discuss whether the application should be made under the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 or as an application for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009.