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Recordkeeping In Brief 39 - Reviewing access directions

The State Records Act provides an internal review mechanism for decisions made by public offices to close or open records to public access. The review mechanism ensures that public offices are accountable and answerable for decisions that affect the publics' entitlement to access records in the open access period.

Who can request a review?

State Records can request a review of an access direction.

When will State Records request a review?

State Records may request a review of an access direction if after advice and negotiation with a public office a direction remains:

  • inconsistent with the spirit of the access provisions of the State Records Act, including the presumption that most records should be opened after 30 years
  • contrary to the Attorney Generals' guidelines on making access directions, or
  • creates an inconsistent framework of public access to State records across government.

Who is responsible for reviewing an access direction?

The request is made to the Minister responsible for the public office that authorised the direction. The Minister must finalise the review in three months. The review may be carried out in consultation with State Records.

What are the possible outcomes of a review?

The Minister finalises a review by either:

  • confirming the original access direction, or
  • directing the public office to revoke the access direction and replace it with another specified access direction.

What must a public office do after a review?

The public office must comply with the Minister's direction within 14 days. The public office can comply by revoking and authorising an access direction in accordance with the Minister's review.

If the public office does not comply within 14 days the access direction is revoked. The revoked direction can not be given again without the permission of State Records.

Can the Minister's direction be revoked?

The direction specified by a Minster in a review of an access direction can not be revoked without the permission of the Minister or State Records.