NSW Information Commissioner highlights the significance of the online space for access to information this Right to Know Week NSW 2023

Today, the NSW Information Commissioner and Open Data Advocate, Elizabeth Tydd, launched Right to Know Week NSW 2023.

Right to Know Week NSW takes place this year from 25 September – 1 October 2023 and aims to raise awareness of a person’s right to access government held information, encourage citizens to take an active interest in their right to access information and remind agencies of their obligations in protecting citizens’ rights under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

The 2023 theme is ‘The importance of the online space for access to information’.

NSW public sector agencies are increasingly utilising new technologies and digital platforms to carry out their functions or provide services to the public. In using these new technologies and digital platforms, agencies must determine how to best capture, store and make records available.

On this year’s theme, Commissioner Tydd said, “The online space plays a pivotal role in empowering citizens by providing easy and convenient access to a vast array of government information.

“By offering access to information online, citizens can engage with government agencies, apply for services, and seek assistance easily which enhances overall public service delivery.

“The online space also empowers individuals to critically assess information, identify misinformation, and ensure that government remains accountable and responsive to citizen views.”

Research by the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) into the Informal Release pathway shows that overwhelmingly 83% of informal requests recorded by agencies resulted in information being released and encouragingly, 58% of agencies reported keeping statistics on informal release.

Commissioner Tydd said, “Informal release under the GIPA Act provides agencies with a flexible and efficient pathway to exercise their discretion to release information. In doing so agencies are acting in accordance with the overarching objective of promoting an open, accountable, fair and effective system of democratic government.

“Citizens are encouraged to utilise the informal release pathway to effectively and efficiently access government information, while agencies need to ensure proper systems and procedures are in place to support their informal release practices.”

To assist agencies in their understanding and improve their informal release practices, during Right to Know Week the Information Commissioner is releasing new and updated resources including:

  • Templates for Informal Release Decision Letters
  • Checklist on Informal Access
  • Information Access Guideline 11 – Informal Release of Information
  • Template for Agency Informal Release Records
  • Updated Fact Sheet for citizens on Frequently asked questions – Informal Release of Information

More information, including events taking place during the week and resources on information access rights in NSW, are available on the Right to Know Week NSW 2023 website.