Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, or FOI for short, anyone, anywhere in the world can ask Australian public authorities for information in their custody. This can be information they hold in all the various forms that takes, such as documents on paper, held electronically, pictures, sound recordings or video. By law the authority must respond to that request either providing the information requested, or else it must give a valid legal reason why it must be kept confidential.
It took 10 years and dedication on the part of those who worked behind the scenes to bring Freedom of Information Act 1982. 30 years later, from a bustling population of well over 22 million people, only 4,000 Freedom of Information requests were made for non-personal information in Australia this year. That’s not because all the information people want access to has already been made public, and here at the OpenAustralia Foundation, we think one reason for this low number of requests made in the public interest is that people think it’s hard to do. Right To Know is set to put a big welcome mat outside the door to information requests, as we remind everyone that our democracy includes this right of access to information held by public authorities, and that its really not so hard to put in your request.
Right To Know aims to make it easier for everyone to make requests in a few different ways.
- Helping you make your successful request is the main focus of the site
- Bringing all the authorities together saves time, you don’t have to trawl the web for the right authority first
- To make the process easier to understand, it uses plain english
- To get a feeling for the scope, wording of successful requests, it offers you dynamic search for related requests so you can see how others have done it
- Clearly communicates your rights of access
- Guidance appears as and when you need it to keep the request flowing through Right to Know and the Public Authority to whom your request is being made
What people have said about Right To Know
…the Senate…congratulates the Foundation for its ‘Right to Know’ initiative which will further improve access to government held information
We are very pleased to be supporting http://www.righttoknow.org.au
It’s the first “demand side” initiative in decades.