About information policy

What is information policy?

Information policy is about how government handles and uses the information that it holds (public sector information). The Freedom of Information Act 1982 states that information held by the Australian Government is a national resource, and is to be managed for public purposes.

The Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 provides that the Australian Information Commissioner (Information Commissioner) has the function of reporting to the Attorney-General on how public sector information is:

  • collected
  • used
  • disclosed
  • managed
  • administered
  • stored
  • accessed.

In practice, this means that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) advises the Australian Government on how to:

  • be more open, accountable and transparent
  • make public sector information accessible, discoverable and useable
  • collect, use and manage public sector information efficiently
  • make public sector information more readily and freely available to the public to maximise its reuse and value
  • give citizens new opportunities to engage in, and develop, Australian Government processes and policies.

More information about the functions of the OAIC and what the OAIC does can be found on What we do.

Declaration of Open Government

In July 2012, the Australian Government made the Declaration of Open Government. This Declaration committed the Australian Government to promoting greater participation in Australia’s democracy:

  • based on a culture of engagement
  • built on better access to, and use of, government held information
  • sustained by the innovative use of technology.

Principles on open public sector information

The OAIC has developed the Principles on open public sector information to assist agencies implement best practice information management. The OAIC encourages agencies to embed these principles in their internal policies and procedures on information management. This will help build a culture of proactive information disclosure and community engagement.

Government 2.0 Taskforce

On 22 December 2009 the Government 2.0 Taskforce made recommendations about how the Government could use new, collaborative and interactive web (web 2.0) tools and approaches to achieve more open, accountable, responsive and efficient government. Twelve of the 13 recommendations from Government 2.0 Taskforce report, Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0 were accepted by the government and have now been implemented.

Committees and Councils

The Information Commissioner is assisted with respect to information policy issues by the Information Advisory Committee, comprising senior officers from key agencies and people from outside government who have suitable qualifications or experience.

The Information Commissioner is also an ex officio member of the Administrative Review Council.

International open government movement

The implementation of effective information policy is supported by the international open government movement. The Open Government Partnership is an international initiative that seeks to make governments more transparent, effective and accountable. International information policy resources can be found on the additional information policy resources page.

Protecting information rights — advancing information policy