Mareeba Shire Council is committed to providing the community with open and transparent access to information about its services and activities. Our website already contains a lot of information about our services and business operations, and we are committed to adding to this information.
What is Right to Information?
Previously known as Freedom of Information (FOI). On 1 July 2009 the old Freedom of Information Act 1992 was replaced by two pieces of legislation. These are the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP). The RTI deals with applications for non-personal information and IP deals with requests for personal information and amendments of personal information.
The Right to Information is the Queensland Government’s approach to giving the community greater access to information. This approach is provided for in the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI). For more background information about the government’s approach and details about the new legislation please visit the RTI Queensland Government website.
The Queensland Government made a commitment to provide access to information held by the government, including Councils, unless on balance it is contrary to the public interest to provide that information.
The Right to Information aims to make more information available, provide equal access to information across all sectors of the community, and provide appropriate protection for individual privacy.
This does not include information that is already available under an existing “access arrangement”, such as Council minutes, which are available without applying under RTI.
How do I access information?
If you are looking for information about how Mareeba Shire Council operates, a good starting point is the Publication Scheme which sets out key information and how it can be accessed.
The Right to Information (RTI) aims to increase public access to Government information. As a general principle, the Queensland Government has moved to a “push model”, where information should be released or made available as a matter of course, rather than waiting for the public to “pull” information through recourse to Legislation. The access provisions embodied in the RTI Act may be considered as a last resort to access information that is not otherwise available.
The Premier has directed that all agencies publish a Publication Scheme that explains the information that the public can access. This scheme sets out classes of information and the terms on which Council will make this information available.
Click here for more information and to view Council’s Publication Scheme.
Another source of information is Council’s Disclosure Log. The Disclosure Log describes the documents that have been provided in response to requests for information under the RTI Act since the Mareeba Shire Council commenced operations on 1 January 2014. Once released, these documents are available to everyone. Having said that, care still needs to be taken when re-publishing information from the Disclosure Log as the defamation and breach of confidence laws may apply.
RTI commenced on 1 July 2009. Documents released to applicants under the Act will be progressively published via Council’s Disclosure Log.
The Disclosure Log lists details of the requests made and the information provided in response to those requests, but does not include identifying details of the applicants.
Should you have any questions or wish to obtain a copy of the released documents, please contact Council’s Right to Information Officer on phone 1300 308 461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please provide the following information when contacting Council:
- your request for the relevant Disclosure Log documents
- the application number as a reference
- your email or postal address
Limitations on access
There may be access limitations to information held by Council, for example that involve operational and investigation documents. This does not mean that an application to access such information cannot be made. To obtain access to documents relating to a particular investigation, the documents must consist of information about the applicant and the investigation must be finalised. It is possible that parties not involved in an investigation may not be able to access investigation files. This is about making applicants aware that there are exemption provisions that may apply to applications for access to information held by Council.
Council recognises circumstances which support the need to provide access to information where it is lawful to do so by means other than a formal access application under the RTI Act. Administrative release of information reduces time, resources and costs and demonstrates commitment to openness, accountability and transparency. Requests for administrative access to information held by Council must be made in writing.
What is a ‘document’ under RTI and IP?
For the purposes of RTI and IP, the term ‘document’ includes files, computer printouts, maps, plans, photographs, tape recordings, films or videotapes and other means of storing information, no matter how old or recent.
Can I see all documents?
Some documents are exempt under these Acts to protect essential public interests or the personal or business information of others. Sometimes part of a document may not be available if it contains information which is exempt (e.g. name and address of complainant/s).
If you are refused access to a document or given partial access only, Council must give you written reasons for the decision. Council must also tell you of your rights of appeal.
Documents already publicly available (such as birth certificates, and including those available for a fee), under other legislation, or administrative processes, are not available through RTI or IP.
What are ‘personal information’ documents?
Personal information documents include information on any matter of personal or private concern to an individual such as medical records, family or domestic relationships, income, assets and financial records.
When you want to see documents containing information about your own personal information, you will have to show proof of identity.
What is Information Privacy?
On 1 July 2009 the Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act) came into effect replacing parts of the now repealed Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act).
From 1 July 2010 Queensland Local Government became subject to information privacy laws.
The IP Act contains two sets of rules:
- How individuals access and amend their own personal information;
- 11 Information Privacy Principles (IPPs).
Mareeba Shire Council has in place a Confidentiality Policy which encompasses the IPP’s.
Through the implementation of this policy Council agrees to:
- Comply with the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs);
- To take reasonable steps to make contractors and volunteers subject to the IP Act where required.
Lodging a Right to Information application
If you have been unable to access information you believe to be held by Council, you may make an application under the RightTo Information Act 2009.
Applications may incur charges, and you are encouraged to talk to Council’s Right To Information officer to discuss the type of information you are requesting, and any expected costs.
Applications should be made using the Right to Information and Information Privacy Access Application, and completed applications should be sent to:
Mareeba Shire Council
PO Box 154
MAREEBA QLD 4880
You can also email your application to email@example.com.
Amending documents containing personal information
Under the Information Privacy Act 2009 you may apply for an amendment to a document that contains your personal information, if that document contains information that is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading. Please note that this is not required for changes of name, address etc.
You should submit applications using the Right to Information and Information Privacy Access Application. Your completed application should be sent to:
Chief Executive Officer
Personal Information Amendment Requests
Mareeba Shire Council
PO Box 154
MAREEBA QLD 4880
You can also fax your application to 07 4092 3323, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens when access is granted?
Council will let you see the documents, and if you wish, give you a copy (note: for non-personal applications, you will need to pay an application fee – see above). In some cases, another form may be more appropriate, such as listening to a tape recording or watching a video.
If, for some reason, copies of documents cannot be made and sent to you, Council will discuss with you how, when and where you can view the material.
Can other people apply for documents about me?
Most documents concerning your personal information will be exempt. However, if the document is not exempt, Council will contact you if it believes the disclosure would be of substantial concern to you.
If Council decides to release any information against your wishes Council must provide you with written reasons as well as your rights of appeal. No documents will be released until you have had the chance to appeal.
What if I’m not satisfied?
If you are not satisfied with any decision about your application, you have the right to ask for a review.
For instance, you may have been refused access to a whole or part of a document, refused an amendment, or perhaps you are concerned that your personal or business information will be disclosed to someone else.
You have the options of applying for an:
A person more senior to the original decision-maker will review your application and inform you of the review decision within 20 business days, including reasons as to why the original decision is affirmed, modified or overturned.
You can also write to the Information Commissioner and apply for an external review. The Commissioner may change or confirm the decision made on your RTI or IP request or try to mediate a settlement between the parties.