FOI Document Categories (section 7 statement)

Introduction

Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (the Act) requires the ACT Human Rights Commission to prepare and publish a statement outlining the Commission’s organisation, functions and decision-making powers, the categories of documents available, and facilities available to the public for accessing documents. This statement is current at 30 June 2011.

Organisation, functions & decision-making powers

The Commission consists of the three Commissioners of equal status: the Children & Young People Commissioner; the Health Services Commissioner/Disability & Community Services Commissioner; and the Human Rights & Discrimination Commissioner.
The Commission is an independent agency and is not subject to the direction of anyone else in relation to the exercise of its functions. The only exception is that a relevant Minister may direct the Commission to inquire into and report on a matter that can be complained about under the Human Rights Commission Act 2005 (HRC Act).

The Commission has a number of functions set out in s.14 of the HRC Act which are, in summary:

  • To provide an independent, fair and accessible process for resolving complaints made under the HRC Act regarding unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment, health services, services for children and young people, disability services and services for older people;
  • To encourage and assist users and providers of health services, services for children and young people, disability services and services for older people to make improvements in the provision of these services;
  • To assist providers of health services, services for children and young people, disability services and services for older people to develop and improve procedures for dealing with complaints;
  • To provide community education and information about the HRC Act and related Acts, the Commission and the complaints process;
  • Identifying, inquiring into and reviewing issues related to unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment, health services, services for children and young people, disability services and services for older people, and reporting to or advising the Minister about these issues;
  • Referring certain matters regarding individual children and young people in the care of the Territory to the Public Advocate; and
  • Advising the Minister about any matters relating to the HRC Act or related Act.

The Commissioners have further specific functions and powers under the following legislation:

  • Children and Young People Act 2008;
  • Corrections Management Act 2007;
  • Discrimination Act 1991;
  • Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) Act 2010;
  • Health Professionals Act 2004;
  • Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997; and
  • Human Rights Act 2004.

Public participation in decision-making

Arrangements for public participation in decision-making and policy work of the Commission include invitations for public submissions to inquiries and audits conducted by the Commission, discussion at public forums hosted by the Commission, information stalls at community events and written and electronic community surveys conducted by the Commission.

In addition to these avenues for public participation, the Commission engages with a range of target groups in the community to enable their participation in the work of the Commission:

The Commission has a Reconciliation Action Plan July 2011-June 2012 that informs specific community engagement activities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

  • The Commission conducts an annual Race Relations Roundtable with representatives from a range of community and government organisations;
  • The Commission engages and consults with people with a disability and their carers through a range of means, including regular and systematic engagement with peak bodies that represent the interests and experiences of this group. The Commission also communicates with organisations that represent service providers who work with people with a disability and/or their carers, and individuals with specific expertise and interests; and
  • The Commission seeks the views of children and young people on a range of issues that affect them through a range of means including face to face consultations, postcard and online surveys and information stalls.

Categories of documents

The Commission holds two basic categories of documents:

Those that are freely available on request and without charge; and
All other kinds of documents that may be made available under the Act.

Documents available on request & without charge

Documents within this category include publications produced by the Commission on various aspects of its activities, including policy submissions, inquiry and audit reports. These are available on request from the Commission and may also be available on the Commission’s website www.hrc.act.gov.au.

Documents of other kinds that may be available under the FOI Act:

General files including internal and public documents, minutes of meetings of committees, agendas and background papers;

  • Policy files;
  • Training and education materials;
  • Diaries, rosters, work sheets;
  • Records held on computer or paper in connection with the Commission’s functions;
  • Photographs, videos, sound recordings and artwork;
  • Financial and accounting records;
  • Details of contracts and tenders;
  • Complaint files, except health record complaints;
  • Inquiry and audit files; and
  • Leases and deeds of agreement.

Facilities for access

Those seeking information are encouraged to seek access by contacting the Commission before resorting to the more formal FOI procedure. In many cases it may be possible to access information more quickly and efficiently through such an approach.

The Commission is located at Level 4, 12 Moore St in Canberra City. Information regarding bus routes and timetables can be obtained from ACTION telephone 131710. Our contact details are:

Telephone: (02) 6205 2222
Fax: (02) 6207 1034
Email: human.rights@act.gov.au

FOI requests should be directed to:

ACT Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601