International Access to Information Day 2021

Published 27th September, 2021

International Access to Information Day, is held annually on the 28 September. This global event highlights the importance of timely access to information in promoting public scrutiny and participation and allowing individuals and governments to make informed decisions.

Joint statement from Australian information access commissioners and ombudsmen to mark International Access to Information Day on 28 September

As communities around the world mark International Access to Information Day on 28 September, we are encouraging governments across Australia to build in access to information from the start in policy development, projects and service delivery.

This open-by-design approach recognises that information is a vital asset to both government and citizens. It fosters innovation and helps everyone engage in our democracy.

Timely access to information promotes greater public participation and scrutiny and allows both individuals and governments to make informed decisions.

Proactive and informal release of information is also central to open government, and helps to build greater trust between government and the community.

In our current environment, access to government data is increasingly expected in near real-time. It is a critical tool to support the pandemic recovery and response, from public health measures to business and economic decisions.

International Access to information Day reinforces the importance of this fundamental right to creating an informed and empowered community and maintaining our open and democratic system of government.

Open by Design Principles

Australian Information Access Commissioners and Ombudsmen published an authoritative statement to promote the proactive release of information.

The Open by Design Principles have been released ahead of International Access to Information Day on 28 September, and should be used by government agencies to encourage and authorise the proactive release of information and promote open government.

Citizens throughout Australia experience inconsistent levels of access to valuable and important information from government. This is particularly evident in the differences in proactive release of information between jurisdictions.

The proactive disclosure of government-held information promotes open government and advances our system of representative democracy. The principles are intended to advance integrity in government and provide ready access to information that is important to citizens and the digital economy.

The Open by Design Principles have been informed by citizen surveys that identified information that is important to citizens. The principles recognise that:

  • information held by government and public institutions is a public resource
  • a culture of transparency within government is everyone’s responsibility
  • appropriate, prompt and proactive disclosure of government-held information:
    • ­ informs community
    • ­ increases participation and enhances decision-making
    • ­ builds trust and confidence
    • ­ improves service delivery
    • ­ is required or permitted by law
    • ­ improves efficiency.

All Australian governments – Commonwealth, state and territory, and local – and public institutions are strongly encouraged to commit to being Open by Design by building a culture of transparency and by prioritising, promoting and resourcing proactive disclosure. In their joint statement, Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen recommend ways that public sector agencies can:

  1. Embed a proactive disclosure culture in all public sector agencies and public institutions
  2. Implement a best practice Open by Design approach to proactive disclosure
  3. Engage with the Australian community in relation to the information that is of most value and interest to them
  4. Adopt a customer service approach to the proactive disclosure of information.

New consumer video resource

In the lead up to International Access to Information Day, Australian Commissioners and Ombudsmen have also released a new consumer video resource to promote awareness of access to information rights.

View the NT’s video animation below or visit:  International Access to Information Day - NT - YouTube