International Access to Information Day

International Access to Information Day Logo

On 28 September, we will join members of the United Nations and Australian states and territories in marking International Access to Information Day.

This event recognises the importance of the community’s right to access information held by governments around the globe.

Our theme this year – Open by design – highlights the need for governments to consider how they will make information accessible from the start in policy development, projects and service delivery, and release information proactively. This includes information that is commonly sought or identified as valuable or necessary for open and accountable government.

International Access to Information Day also promotes the value of access to information in fostering innovation and helping everyone participate in our democracy.

Learn more about our FOI system this #AccessToInfoDay through our community and agency resources, videos and events. Government agencies can also download our campaign materials to show your support and share how your agency is #OpenByDesign.

Commissioner’s message

Portrait of Angelene Falk

International Access to Information Day recognises our right to access government-held information, and the important role this plays in our democracy. In calling on government information to be Open by design, we are reflecting the community’s expectations for transparency and accountability, including in assisting the pandemic response and recovery.

At the OAIC, we are committed to promoting and upholding everyone’s right to access Australian Government information. This right is protected under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) which requires government agencies to publish and release a range of information.

It was introduced following an inquiry by the Australian Parliament in 1979, which identified 3 key reasons for access to information laws:

  • FOI enhances the transparency of policy making, administrative decision making and government service delivery.
  • It allows individuals to see what information government holds about them, and to seek correction of that information if they consider it wrong or misleading.
  • A community that is better informed can participate more effectively in the nation’s democratic processes.

These reasons are still relevant today, and reinforce the principle that information held by government is a national resource and should be managed for public purposes.

This principle is at the heart of our #OpenByDesign campaign. The FOI Act contains a presumption that information held by government should be shared with the community, unless there is an overriding reason not to do so.

This means FOI requests should be dealt with efficiently and information should be considered for proactive release, including information that is commonly sought or identified as valuable or necessary for open and accountable government.

As we continue to respond to COVID-19, the need for decisions to be documented and made accessible wherever possible remains critical in providing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities, in line with the objects of the FOI Act.

The work of FOI practitioners is essential to this process, and we acknowledge their contribution to upholding the objects of the FOI Act and supporting the effective management of government-held information.

Our campaign site has more resources for the community and practitioners, as well as information about events to help us all mark #AccessToInfoDay.

Angelene Falk
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner