New article: Information access evolution: assessing Freedom of Information reforms in Australia

Australian Journalism Review – Vol 38 Issue 1 (Jul 2016)

The past seven years have seen major reforms of half the Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in Australia. This is the third article in a series investigating the reforms. The first paper mapped the international evolution of FOI (Lidberg, 2013) and the second described a pilot study of Australian FOI reforms (Lidberg, 2015). The question posed in this article is “have the Australian FOI reforms made a difference in practice?” To answer this question, a participatory observation study was designed and information sought using Australian FOI systems, comparing the FOI 1.0 “pull” FOI jurisdictions with the reformed FOI 2.0 “push” systems. A diary method was employed, and the findings indicate that some new-generation FOI regimes deliver better and faster access to information, while some non-reformed systems perform on par with the updated ones. The results point to great discrepancies between agencies in how the information is made available. Accountability theory was used to analyse and discuss the findings. Full article.