Public access to the records of Government is a fundamental right in a democratic society. The State Records Act 1998 promotes the principles of accountability and access by providing for the creation, management and protection of State records and for public access to those records. The underlying principle is that all records of continuing value will be publicly available in due course.
Public Access under the State Records Act 1998
Part 6 of the State Records Act creates a framework for regulating public access to State records which have been in existence for at least 30 years (the 'open access period'). The 30 year period has been determined on the basis that most records no longer affect significant interests or are considered sensitive after this time has passed. There is presumption that most records will be open after 30 years. Not all such records, however, are open for public access. Some contain information, such as sensitive personal information, that require a longer period of closure.
Government agencies assess the records for which they are responsible, including those held as State archives for continuing sensitivity. They are required to make an 'access direction' which determines whether the records are open or closed public access.
Q: What is an Access Direction?
A: An access direction specifies that a series, group or class of records is:
- open to public access (OPA) after 30 years, or
- closed to public access (CPA) for a period of more than 30 years.
Q: How do I know what records are covered by an access direction?
State Records maintains a publicly available Register of access directions .