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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter

Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Greenleaf, Graham --- "Complaint: Department of Community Services (NSW)" [1994] PrivLawPRpr 69; (1994) 1(5) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 91

Complaint: Department of Community Services (NSW)

NSW Ombudsman - Annual Report 1993

Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) - cl 13(b) Sched 1 - prejudice to future supply of information to governments - identity of informants

The Department of Community Services refused the complainant access, under the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW), to information identifying the person who had notified the Department that her children were at risk from parental abuse.

The Ombudsman considered that the Department's reliance on the exception in cl 4(1)(b), Sched 1 (disclosures reasonably expected ''to enable the existence or identity of any confidential source of information, in relation to the enforcement or administration of the law, to the ascertained', was ''inappropriately used' (no further explanation given).

However, the Department was correct in denying access because of cl 13(b), Sched 1, which exempts disclosure of information which was ''obtained in confidence' and ''could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of such information to the government or to an agency' and ''would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest'. The Ombudsman referred to ''the strong public interest requirement that the Department be informed, in confidence, of children at risk'.

Graham Greenleaf

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