Policy

Right to Information - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

The primary objective of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and Chapter 3 of the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) is to extend the right of the community to have access to information held by State Government departments and local and public authorities with a view to achieving more open, accountable and responsible government.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Document - for the purposes of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) a document is very broad and includes:

  • any paper or other material on which there is writing; and
  • any paper or other material on which there are marks, figures, symbols or perforations having a meaning for a person qualified to interpret them; and any disc, tape or other article or any material from which sounds, images, writings or messages are capable of being produced or reproduced (with or without the aid of another article or device).

Document in the possession or control of the University - A document will be considered to be in the possession or control of the University if:

  • it was created in, or received by the University; or
  • it is a document which the University is entitled to access; or
  • it is a document in the possession or under the control of an officer of the University in that officer's official capacity.

Independent organisations - independent organisations include residential colleges (other than UQ Gatton Halls of Residence), staff and student unions and the sports associations.

Subsidiary companies - companies which are subsidiary to the University or otherwise connected to the University (including UniQuest Limited and the University of Queensland Foundation Ltd).

University - comprises numerous discrete units that are part of the University body corporate, including Faculties, Schools, Institutes, Divisions, and individual business units.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

As a public authority established by the University of Queensland Act 1998 (Qld), the University of Queensland is subject to the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld). The policy does not apply to:

  • independent organisations that are not regarded as part of the University; and
  • subsidiary companies, which operate as independent Right to Information and Information Privacy agencies.

4. Policy Statement

The Right to Information Act 2009 reflects government policy that documents should be made generally available administratively without the need for a formal application. The University’s continued success as a knowledge leader relies on the forging of strategic partnerships with key partners and stakeholders. In achieving this, the University will engage those partners and stakeholders about appropriate access to University-held information. For that purpose, the University is committed to understand the information needs of its stakeholders.

The University makes a variety of information and documents available to its immediate clients, its students and staff, as part of normal administrative processes, either free of charge or at a small cost. To the extent practicable, the University will provide access to information and to documents without recourse to the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

In some of its activities, particularly in its dealings with staff and students, and in relation to business or commercial negotiations and research, the University comes into possession of confidential information. The Chief Operating Officer will determine whether confidential information can be released without recourse to the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

5. Access to Documents

5.1 Administrative access scheme

The University has an administrative access scheme where applications for documents can be made outside of the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009. The administrative access scheme covers:

  • access to staff and student files;
  • limited access to referee reports arising out of continuing appointment and promotion applications for academic staff levels A - D;
  • access to personal information from third parties acting as representatives of staff or students.

The procedures attached to this policy outline the process and steps for applying for documents under an administrative access scheme.

5.2 Requests for access to University documents generally

The University is the custodian of a large volume of documentation that cannot be made available administratively as a matter of course. The University will, in its absolute discretion, provide bona fide researchers and persons with a legitimate interest access to view University documents without the need for the person to lodge a formal application, excluding documents that contain confidential information or are otherwise exempt under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

5.3 Formal requests for University documents

A person may make a formal application under the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009 for access to University documents. The University will process any formal application in accordance with the provisions of the relevant Act. The procedures attached to this policy outline the process and steps for making a formal application to access University documents.

6. Amendment of Personal Information

The Information Privacy Act 2009 provides a mechanism for individuals who have had access to documents containing information relating to their personal information to apply for amendment of that information, through alteration or the addition of an appropriate notation, if the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading.

The University supports the concept that decisions about a person should be based on accurate and complete information. The University's policy is to ensure all records are accurate and will give due consideration to any request to amend personal information held on its files. However, a person who is dissatisfied with these informal procedures will have recourse to the provisions of the Information Privacy Act 2009.

7. Policy on Charging

A person applying for access to information which is not just documents containing his or her personal information must pay an application fee at the time of making the application. A person may also be required to pay processing and access charges before access can be given. These charges are set out in the Right to Information Regulation 2009.

A person applying under the Information Privacy Act 2009 for access to documents which contain his or her personal information is not required to pay an application fee.

While the University aims to provide access to documents outside the Act to the extent practicable, if copies of documents are requested, or other access services needed to be arranged, charges similar to those applying under the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009 will be applied.

8. External Review

An applicant who is dissatisfied with the University's decision either at the initial decision stage or on an internal review may seek a review of that decision through the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner is an independent body set up to review the Right to Information and Privacy decisions of all government agencies and public authorities.

9. Publication Scheme

The University is required under the Right to Information Act 2009 to implement a Publication Scheme. The Scheme sets out important information concerning the University and its policies. The purpose of the Publication Scheme is to give the community greater access to information to enhance openness and accountability. The University's Publication Scheme is available online.

Custodians
Chief Operating Officer
Mr Greg Pringle

Procedures

Right to Information - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the process and steps for applying for access to documents held by the University.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to any person applying to access University documents.

4. Procedures Statement

These procedures set out the process for a person applying for access to University documents, whether the application is under an administrative access scheme, under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

5. Administrative Access Scheme

5.1 Access to staff and student files

Staff and students are permitted access to a copy of their staff or student file that the University does not consider to be confidential or otherwise exempt under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

To access their file, staff and students must:

  • lodge a written request to the Right to Information and Privacy Office via email to rtip@uq.edu.au
  • provide sufficient information concerning the documents to enable the identity of the documents
  • include a copy of the applicant's staff or student card.

In processing the application:

  • the Right to Information and Privacy Office will officially acknowledge receipt of the application within 10 business days.
  • the application will normally be processed within 25 business days
  • any personal information not relating to the applicant will be edited from the documents.

5.2 Access to referee reports for continuing appointment and promotion of academic staff levels A-D

Academic staff who have applied for confirmation of continuing appointment or promotion (excluding professorial confirmation and promotion) are permitted access to referee reports, only where the referee has agreed to the release of the report to the staff member. To access the referee reports, the staff member must:

  • lodge a written request to the Right to Information and Privacy Office via email to rtip@uq.edu.au
  • specify the reports requested
  • include a copy of the applicant's staff card.

The application will normally be processed within 15 business days and access to the reports will be provided electronically to the nominated email address or by collection on CD from the Right to Information and Privacy Office.

Applications seeking access to a) referee reports where the referee has not consented to the disclsoure of the report to the staff member or b) other documents relating to an application for confirmation of continuing appointment or promotion must be made under the Information Privacy Act 2009.

5.3 Access to personal information from third parties acting as representatives of staff members or students

The University receives applications for personal information from third parties who are acting as representatives of staff or students. The third parties generally include solicitors and insurance agencies. The University will provide the third party with access to the relevant documents provided that:

  • the request contains a signed written authorisation from the individual authorising the University to disclose their personal information;
  • the requested information is within scope of the authorisation provided by the individual.

Requests that cannot be processed administratively under this section will be processed as applications under the Information Privacy Act 2009.

All requests to access personal information from third parties acting as representatives of staff or students must be referred to the Right to Information and Privacy Office for consideration.

6. Formal Applications

Formal applications for access to, or amendment of, University documents can be made under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009. An application under the Right to Information Act 2009 is appropriate if the applicant is seeking access to documents other than the applicant's personal information. An application under the Information Privacy Act 2009 is appropriate if the application is limited only to the applicant's personal information.

An application for access under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009 should be lodged with the Right to Information and Privacy Office. The application must:

  • be in writing, preferably on the approved application form;
  • contain sufficient information to enable relevant documents to be identified;
  • state a contact address to which correspondence can be sent;
  • if the application seeks access to documents personal to the applicant, the applicant must provide evidence of identification.

An application under the Right to Information Act 2009 must be accompanied by the approved application fee as set out in the Right to Information Regulation 2009. There is no application fee for an application under the Information Privacy Act 2009.

7. Decision-makers

7.1 Administrative access applications

The Governance and Policy Officer has the responsibility for processing applications under an administrative access scheme. If a person is dissatisfied with the information received under an administrative access scheme, the person may make a formal application in accordance with section 7.2.

7.2 Formal applications

As the University's principal officer, the Vice-Chancellor has powers and responsibilities under the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009. This includes the responsibility to deal with access and amendment applications. The Vice-Chancellor may delegate this responsibility, generally or in a particular case, to another officer of the University.

To promote good governance within the University, the Vice-Chancellor has delegated the responsibility for processing initial applications for access or amendment under the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009 to the Governance and Policy Officer. This ensures the University has an opportunity to conduct a formal internal review as provided by the Acts.

7.3 Decisions on review

The Right to Information Act 2009 and the Information Privacy Act 2009 provide that an applicant who is dissatisfied with certain decisions made in relation to an application may request the University to reconsider its decision. The Vice-Chancellor has delegated this responsibility to the Chief Operating Officer, who will review the decision of the Governance and Policy Officer.

Custodians
Chief Operating Officer
Mr Greg Pringle
Custodians
Chief Operating Officer
Mr Greg Pringle