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Sweeping FOI changes urgently needed

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) spotlight has recently been firmly focused on Freedom Of Information issues.

 

As a result, the NSW Government is currently reviewing FOI legislation and whole scale reforms are expected to flow.

 

Over several years WISE Workplace has provided numerous reports on private and sensitive matters to its clients.

 

Each client has a different perspective on how to handle the reports. Some clients always provide a copy of the full report to the respondents and complainants. Others have a policy not to disclose reports – unless requested through FOI.

 

Instead, they provide the findings only to respondents.

 

WISE investigators firmly believe such blanket decisions don’t meet the needs of the people involved in disputes and can lead to unnecessary ongoing distress and dysfunction in the workplace.

 

WISE compiles all reports from the perspective that both the complainant and respondent will have access to the report in full – as well as some of the witnesses.

 

With this in mind, investigators provide a factual account in which everything they report is supported in evidence.

 

It is vital for all parties involved to understand the extent and limitations around access to information provided before participating in an investigation. This can ease the level of discomfort felt at the time.

 

While some witnesses may not fully disclose information as a result, this is often outweighed by improved honesty by other witness accounts. 

 

In the interests of resolving disputes and returning people to full productivity, WISE supports the individual assessment of investigation reports.

This is far preferable to blanket decisions to never make investigation reports available to respondents and complainants.

 

The first position should always be to provide the report in full to the respondent and complainant – unless it is felt the scope and contents of the report would cause unnecessary distress.

 

If large parts of the report contain personal confidential information related to other parties, consideration should also be given to excluding those parts of the report that would cause embarrassment to other individuals. 

 

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