Availability and accessibility of information
The Government has a responsibility to ensure that information about its policies, programs and services is made available to the public in the short and long term (see Policy statement 1). This means that particular attention should be given to ensuring that information can be found through sources that are commonly available to the public. It also requires information to be well catalogued, easily retrievable and securely maintained.
Agency information must be made available in accordance with the Right to Information Act 2009 (commenced 1 July 2010), which encourages the release of information held by Tasmanian public authorities, including government agencies, without the need for a formal process. The underlying principle of the Act is that information held by public authorities belongs to the people of the State, and has been collected for them and on their behalf.
Agency information must be recorded in a format that complies with the records management policies and procedures of the agency and with the Archives Act 1983.
In complying with disclosure and deposit requirements of the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Archives Act 1983, agencies must also ensure all requirements of the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 are met.
Additionally, agencies must:
- maintain a register or record of all publications for publishing each year in its annual report
- maintain a current, comprehensive and well-structured identification or classification records system that provides an effective means for organising, locating and retrieving published information
- ensure all communication materials feature contact details for the originating agency so questions, comments, feedback, requests for further information or complaints can be received and dealt with promptly
- ensure that in addition to contact details, all published material includes the title of the publication, author(s), source, date of publication, volume/issue number if applicable, International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or International Standard Series Number (ISSN), the Tasmanian Government corporate identity (logo) and acknowledgment of copyright
- ensure information about an agency's mission, structure, programs and services is publicly accessible through their agency website and/or the Service Tasmania or www.tas.gov.au portals
- provide one copy of all publications to the State Library of Tasmania within one month after publication, as per the Tasmanian Libraries Act 1984
- within one month of publication, deliver one copy of all publications to the Legal Deposit Unit of the National Library of Australia in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968
- deposit copies of all electronic publications in the Stable Tasmanian Open Repository Service (STORS) to fulfil the legal deposit obligations under the Libraries Act 1984.
Government information should be equally accessible to all individuals and groups within the community, including those with diverse communication needs, including low levels of literacy, sensory or cognitive disabilities and people who rely on assistive technology, those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and those with limited access to technology (see Policy statement 2). This means that particular attention should be given to ensuring the public can understand and use the information in the way it was intended by the Government.
To maximise accessibility of information, agencies must:
- consider the accessibility of particular communication methods among target audiences when designing communications strategies (e.g. internet access in rural areas, podcast usage among seniors, text heavy messages to young people)
- use plain language, a consistent style and an appropriate tone to ensure target audiences (external and internal) can understand information being communicated in writing or verbally
- consider the need to deliver information in alternative formats (e.g. Braille, large print, via accredited interpreters or translators) where target audiences are from culturally and linguistically diverse communities or have diverse needs including low levels of literacy, sensory and cognitive disabilities or reliance on assistive technology
- ensure all multimedia productions developed for or by the Tasmanian Government comply with the requirements of the Tasmanian Government Captioning Policy (See section 8.3 Multimedia productions).