How does the RTI process work?
The Act refers to four types of disclosure:
- assessed disclosure - a disclosure of information made in response to a formal application in accordance with s13;
- active disclosure - a disclosure of information in response to a request from a person made otherwise than as a request for assessed disclosure;
- required disclosure - a disclosure where the information is required to be published by the RTI Act or any other Act, or where disclosure is otherwise required by law or enforceable under an agreement; and
- routine disclosure - a disclosure of information by a public authority which the public authority decides may be of interest to the public, but which is not a required disclosure, an assessed disclosure or an active disclosure.
What we are concerned with here is assessed disclosure - if a public authority holds information that is not otherwise available to you, an application for assessed disclosure may allow you to access it. Each public authority will have an application form available for use – if you wish to make an application for information, check the authority’s website or phone and request a form.
Once you have submitted a valid application, the public authority will look at the scope of your request and find any information it holds that is relevant. An important thing to note is that RTI is relevant to information held by a public authority, not necessarily information it owns. Once it has collated the information responsive to your request, it must then determine whether it will release the information to you, or if it considers it appropriate, to exempt some or all of that information relying on one or more of the exemption provisions contained in the Act.
The basis for relying on any exemptions must be justified in a decision; the decision should contain reasons which explain to you why it is said that the exemption applies. If you are not satisfied or do not agree that the exemption applies to the information, then you can request a review. In most cases, an internal review of the decision will be made, and if you are still not happy with the outcome you can ask Ombudsman Tasmania to review it. We are the only and final place you can go for an external review of a decision on an application for assessed disclosure.