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Next of kin right to information

Under the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act), a family member can apply to a government agency for access to information the agency holds about their deceased family member.

Government agencies include:

  • Queensland Government departments (e.g. Transport and Main Roads)
  • Health agencies
  • Ministers
  • Local government (e.g. the local council)
  • Government-owned corporations (with some limitations) (e.g. Energex)
  • Public authorities
  • Public universities (e.g. University of Queensland)

Information about the deceased may be held by more than one government agency. For example:

  • The Office of Industrial Relations may hold information if they are investigating the incident that resulted in a workplace death.
  • Queensland Health may hold information if an ambulance was called to the incident, or the person was treated in a public hospital for their injuries.
  • An agency may hold information about the deceased person if they were:
    • employed by the Queensland Government or a local council
    • working on a government or council project, or on a government- or council-owned site (e.g. a school).

A separate application under the RTI Act must be made to each agency to access the documents.

Each application will be dealt with separately by an RTI decision-maker within that agency.

View the list of Queensland RTI/IP agency contacts.

You can contact the agency before making an application to discuss the process and the documents you are seeking. Contacting the agency before making the application may resolve any concerns and may save time and money.

Application

If the documents you want to access are held by a Queensland Government department you can make an online RTI application.

If you do not have internet access or you wish to apply to an agency you must apply using the application form. The Right to Information and Information Privacy Access Application form can be downloaded or call the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) or the relevant agency and request a copy of the application form be sent to you.

There is an application fee under the RTI Act, and you may also have to pay processing and access charges.

Decisions

In making a decision about whether to release information an RTI decision maker must apply the provisions of the RTI Act. This may mean that in some cases documents will not be released. For example, the decision maker may decide information cannot be released because it may prejudice an ongoing investigation or prosecution.

If you do not agree with the decision you can ask for that decision to be reviewed.

More information

Each government agency publishes information about their RTI processes. The contact details for the RTI units of each Queensland Government agency are on www.rti.qld.gov.au.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) also publishes information to assist you in understanding how to access information held by the Queensland Government.

For general enquiries about the operation and application of the RTI Act, contact the OIC on (07) 3234 7373 or email enquiries@oic.qld.gov.au.

Release of information to a third party

An application under the RTI Act for access to documents can be made by any person. For example, another worker injured in the incident may make an RTI application for information about the incident. Potentially that information may include personal information about the deceased person such as their name.

Consultation should take place before releasing any personal information about the deceased person if it would be reasonable to expect that disclosure of the information would be of concern. The RTI decision maker is required to consult with a deceased’s family member where it is practical to do so and if the agency has the contact details of the next of kin.

The decision maker must then balance any objections by family to the release of the information against factors that would favour disclosure (e.g. the injured person having access to information to assist in a personal injury claim).

There are rights of review if the decision maker makes a decision the family member does not agree with. If you do not agree with the decision you can ask for the decision be reviewed. Even where the family cannot be contacted, before releasing personal information about the deceased, the RTI decision maker must be satisfied that, on balance, there is an overriding public interest that favours disclosure of that information.

Coronial investigation

If the coroner is investigating the death or has investigated the death, special conditions apply to accessing coronial documents. The RTI process does not apply.

Coronial documents (documents prepared for the coronial investigation e.g. autopsy certificates and reports, police reports, photographs) may be released to a person if the coroner is satisfied the person asking for them has a sufficient interest in them (e.g. an immediate family member).

Applications for access to coronial documents must be made to the relevant coroner.

Find out more about accessing coronial documents.

Interstate and Commonwealth RTI contacts

If information is held by other state or territory governments or the Commonwealth refer to the below table:

State or territory

Legislation

Website

New South Wales

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

www.ipc.nsw.gov.au

Victoria

Freedom of information Act 1982

www.foi.vic.gov.au

South Australia

Freedom of Information Act 1991

www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/foi-in-sa

Tasmania

Right to Information Act 2009

www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au/right_to_information

Western Australia

Freedom of Information Act 2009

www.foi.wa.gov.au/

Australian Capital Territory

Freedom of Information Act 1989

www.cmd.act.gov.au/open_government/report/
freedom_of_information_requests

Northern Territory

The Information Act

www.infocomm.nt.gov.au/

Commonwealth

Freedom of Information Act 1982

www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information

Last updated
29 March 2018

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