NSW Information Commissioner publishes new guidance in recognition of National Reconciliation Week 2020

In recognition of National Reconciliation Week 2020 the NSW Information Commissioner published a guidance to assist people who were subject to out of home care arrangements to access important records about them and their care arrangements. The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2020 is We are all in this Together and the publication of this guidance recognises that government agencies hold important information and can assist out of home care leavers to gain access to information that is significant and should be available to them. This guidance complements Information Access Guideline 8: Care Leavers’ access to their Out-of-Home Care Records, which recognises the importance we place on transparency in government and the human services sector.

Government and non-government agencies in Australia hold records about an estimated 500,000 people who were in institutional care as children during the 20th century and this guidance includes a check list to assist people in making an application to obtain those records under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA). The Guideline and Checklist are directed to the public interest considerations that support access being granted to institutional care records as fully and efficiently as possible.

The personal information in a care leaver’s record can cover matters such as names (birth names and assigned names), date of birth, Aboriginality, health, family circumstances, conduct in care, and institutional care history and arrangements. The information may have come from many sources, including family, carers, service providers, and other care leavers. A care leaver’s record may also contain personal information relating to other people, such as family, carers, and care leavers. It may also contain health information. Non-personal information that may be found in a care leaver’s record could include an institution’s care and governance arrangements and forward planning, communications between various institutions, and advice provided by a legal or medical practitioner or social worker regarding a care leaver’s circumstances. This information can be of utmost significance to care leavers and the factors in favour of disclosure of this information are substantial.

The checklist is directed to removing barriers to access to information and promoting successful outcomes in accessing this important information. View the checklist here.