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Freedom of Information (FOI) laws have been introduced in over 90 countries around the world to date, with most of these being introduced in recent years. The right to information is increasingly recognised at both domestic constitutional level and by international human rights tribunals. At the same time, FOI is experiencing considerable challenges in terms of the balancing of access rights against other important societal values, such as the protection of privacy, law enforcement and the protection of national security. Here in Australia, the FOI landscape has undergone significant change in recent years. This subject explores the way in which the tension between access and other interests is being negotiated in the new Australian FOI regime. It offers insights from other jurisdictions, both domestic and international. The lecturer brings to this subject a wealth of experience of writing, lecturing and advising on FOI matters in various parts of the world.
Principal topics will include:
- Background to the development of access legislation
- Access to information: The theoretical framework
- The human rights dimension of access to public information
- Reuse of government information
- National regimes on access
- Comparative approaches
- Defining the ‘public interest‘.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should:
- Have a firm grasp of major developments in access to information regimes nationally and internationally
- Be able to apply general principles on access to particular circumstances
- Be aware of genuine claims for secrecy and confidentiality
- Be able to balance openness and privacy
- Be able to assess relevance of exemptions to specific information
- Be able to assess how the public interest operates to override exemptions.
Last updated: 17 March 2020