Date of Award

1-1-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Science

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Charles Edwards

Abstract

This study explores the issues that impact on Western Australian State Government Freedom of Information Coordinators who, within the framework of the Freedom of Information Act (1992), manage requests from the public to access agency held documents. A literature review identified two bodies of material. One extolling FOI, the other arguing that some agency personnel have not accepted, and are actively resisting, the concept of FOI. Using a phenomenological approach, eight Coordinators narrated the issues that impact on their roles and decision-making processes. Themes were identified, analysed and reported in the context of the broader FOI environment. This research found that Coordinators face significant challenges, including the adequacy of the Act; Public Sector and agency culture; relationships with applicants, consultants and third parties; FOI and records management legislation and practices; and the roles and training of agency FOI practitioners, that is, both Coordinators and agency Internal Review Officers. In conclusion, the study asserts that many of the possible solutions to the identified issues are within the Coordinators' and their agency's control, such as implementing general document release policies that will reduce workloads and make public accessibility to documents easier. However, the resolution of other problems will require the willingness of, and a commitment by, the Western Australian Government, Parliament and senior bureaucrats.

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