This year’s international theme chosen by UNESCO is ‘artificial intelligence, e-governance and access to information’, which encourages us to explore how our digital world can improve access to information.
In the Australian context, it presents an opportunity to consider how we enhance openness through e-governance.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), every person has a right to access a document of an agency or an official document of a minister and to receive it unless the document is exempt. The Open by Design Principles released last year, provide a blueprint to Australian government and public institutions to build a culture of transparency by prioritising, promoting and resourcing proactive disclosure.
This year we recognise the importance of building robust e-governance systems and digital platforms that enable access to information for all members of the Australian community.
As we continue to experience an increase in the business of government, including service delivery conducted online, there is a need to consider the importance of designing these information management systems and processes with access to information in mind.
Because considered e-governance and digital platform design achieves Openness by Design at scale, enabling better access to information.
Openness by Design creates clear pathways to access information from the start of developing new services or programs and helps 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 creating a culture of openness.
Welcome to International Access to Information Day 2022
International Access to Information Day promotes the value of access to information, and the important role this plays in helping everyone participate in our democracy.
This year, exploring the theme openness through e-governance, we recognise how government agencies build e-governance systems and digital platforms has a direct impact on information access for all members of the Australian community.
At the OAIC we are committed to promoting and upholding the fundamental right of the community to access 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.
We continue to see an increasing shift of government services provided via online platforms and for the business of government to be conducted digitally. This can make access to information more efficient for the community and government. Digital self-service portals allow individuals to access information about them held by government. And our digital environment allows agencies to readily and proactively deliver content of value to the broader community.
As government agencies continue to go digital the business of government must be searchable and retrievable and should be prepared with proactive publication in mind. So, there is a need and an opportunity to be proactive when designing internally and externally facing information systems and platforms to ensure that access to information is built in by default.
Under the FOI Act, every person has a right to access a document of an agency or an official document of a minister and to receive it unless the document is exempt. Last year, through the release of the Open by Design Principles, information commissioners and ombudsmen provided a blueprint to Australian government and public institutions to build a culture of transparency by prioritising, promoting and resourcing proactive disclosure.
This year we are urging agencies to tailor their digital strategy to implement a best practice approach to achieving that goal.
Essential to this process is the work of FOI practitioners. We acknowledge their contribution to upholding the objects of the FOI Act and managing government-held information in a way that supports a culture of openness by default. As first-hand observers of and participants in FOI processes we welcome their insights into how internally and externally facing information systems and platforms can be designed with transparency in mind.
Please explore our campaign website which includes resources for the community and agencies, as well as information about events to help us all take part in #AccessToInfoDay.
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner
Leo Hardiman PSM KC
Freedom of Information Commissioner