Compassion and compliance: Releasing records under Australian privacy and FOI legislation. Reclaiming Lost Childhoods – Seminar 4 University of Strathclyde 23 September 2013 Associate Professor Suellen Murray Centre for Applied Social Research RMIT University Melbourne, Australia.
Compassion and compliance: Releasing records under Australian privacy and FOI legislation
Reclaiming Lost Childhoods – Seminar 4
University of Strathclyde
23 September 2013
Associate Professor Suellen Murray
Centre for Applied Social Research
Australian biographical studies
Australian ‘life after care’ research
Stolen Generations access to records
UK access to records research
UK guides to access to records
Emerging Australian access to records research
Outcomes of HREOC (1997) and SCARC (2001, 2004, 2009)
Apologies state and federal (2000s)
Who Am I? in Victoria (2009-2012)
Find and Connect nationally (from 2011)
CSOs subject to Privacy Act
DHS subject to Freedom of Information Act - ‘ward of the state’files
‘6.1 If an organisation holds personal information about a individual, it must provide the individual with access to the information on request by the individual, except to the extent that … (b) providing access would have an unreasonable impact on the privacy of other individuals’ (IPP6)
‘33.1 A document is an exempt document if its disclosure … would involve the unreasonable disclosure of information relating to the personal affairs of any person (including a deceased person).’
Guidelines assist in determining whether disclosure is ‘unreasonable’ according to the nature of the information, whether the information is already in the public domain, whether disclosure is likely to endanger the life or physical safety of any person and the applicant’s reasons for seeking the documents (VDoJ, 2012).
‘The crucial tension is that between the identity needs and rights of post-care adults and the rights of other family members to privacy and confidentiality’ (Kirton, Feast & Goddard, 2011: 920).
‘There continues to be a great deal of confusion surrounding the access to information for postcare adults …A common misperception is that the [DPA] Act is a tool that organisations should use to restrict access to information (emphasis added) (Feast 2009:9)
Seeming contradiction between privacy and access to information is confusing, and was evident in Australia as well.
Underpinning records release is an entitlement to access personal information. This was not well known – it was thought by some to be discretionary.
Practice of deleting a whole page of information from the records if any part of it was grounds for exemption