A public access determination is made by the agency responsible for a series of records so that State Records can ensure that the public have appropriate access to official records in its custody.
A public access determination form does one of three things:
• indicates a series/consignment is immediately open to public access or
• indicates a series/consignment is open to public access after a certain period or
• indicates a series/consignment is indefinitely closed.
Agencies should note that the objects of the Freedom of Information Act are to promote openness and accountability in government with an emphasis on the disclosure of information over non-disclosure.
Reasons for restricting access to records may include the protection of personal information, security, commercial confidentiality, or as per legislative requirements. A determination that limits access does not prevent an individual from applying for access to records, and if the agency responsible decides to restrict access to a record, requests to view those records will be directed to the agency responsible, which must then decide whether or not to allow access on a case by case basis. These decisions can be made without application under the Freedom of Information Act.
Agencies are responsible, at the request of State Records, for the review of public access determinations for records already in custody where it is considered necessary or desirable to change a determination.
The registration of a series will not be accepted without a signed Proposal for Access Determination form, unless otherwise arranged with Collection Management Services. Where the public access determination for a series has been made on a consignment-by-consignment basis, or when it has been decided that an individual consignment is to have a public access determination that differs from the whole of series public access determination, the transfer of a consignment will not be approved without a signed Proposal for Access Determination form for the consignment.
Complex series containing records of differing sensitivity
Some series, e.g. correspondence series, contain a mixture of records that attract different levels of sensitivity. To avoid unnecessarily restricting records because a consignment contains some records that attract a higher restriction, series should be divided into consignments according to access determination. A Proposal for Access Determination form will be required for each of the consignments.
How to make a public access determination
To make a public access determination, complete a Proposal for Access Determination form.
The Proposal for Access Determination form should be submitted with a Series Registration form when registering a new series (the GRS field may be left blank), or submitted with a Consignment List spreadsheet (if the whole of series access determination is not applicable to the consignment). The completed and signed form should be emailed to Collection Management Services.
The Proposal for Access Determination form must be signed by a Senior Manager, preferably a Manager with responsibility for records.
Public Access Determination Guideline
State Records has produced a Public Access Determinations Guideline to assist agencies to make decisions about public access to their records.
If you have questions that are not answered by the Guideline, contact Reference and Access Services.