2021 LGBTI and IDAHOBIT directive

Currently waiting for a response from Department of Defence, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Department of Defence,

I refer to this article by the ABC today:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-21/d...

To quote:
“The military has been ordered to stop holding morning teas which celebrate diversity and inclusion, as Defence chiefs remind personnel their "primary mission" is to protect Australia.”

== My Request ==
I request:
1. A copy of the final directive issued to Defence personnel referred to in the ABC article.

2. A copy of all drafts created of the directive.

3. A copy of any comments or correspondence made in relation to any of the drafts.

4. A copy of any correspondence with any ministerial office, minister or member of parliament that relates to LGBTI or IDAHOBIT in 2021.

5. A copy of any correspondence with Defence Leadership (SES/chiefs) including their assistants) that relates to LGBTI or IDAHOBIT in 2021.

== Exclusions ==
I exclude from my request:
1. Names and contact details of members of the public (who are not public servants or defence members)

2. Direct contact details of public servants and defence members

3. Duplicates of documents (for example, please only provide a single email thread if it contains all of the relevant commentary)

== Public Servant Information ==
I do not consent to the removal of public servant names and positions under s.22 as irrelevant. I note that the FOI Guidelines relevantly state:

"6.153 Where public servants’ personal information is included in a document because of their usual duties or responsibilities, it would not be unreasonable to disclose unless special circumstances existed.....

6.154 When considering whether it would be unreasonable to disclose the names of public servants, there is no basis under the FOI Act for agencies to start from the position that the classification level of a departmental officer determines whether his or her name would be unreasonable to disclose. In seeking to claim the exemption an agency needs to identify the special circumstances which exist rather than start from the assumption that such information is exempt."

== Conditional Exemptions - deliberative processes ==
I respectfully remind the Department that, should they wish to argue any of the information is deliberative in nature, I would refer the Department to the relevant section of the FOI Guidelines:

"6.83 Agencies should start with the assumption that public servants are obliged by their position to provide robust and frank advice at all times and that obligation will not be diminished by transparency of government activities."

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless

Department of Defence

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Sent request to Department of Defence again.

FOI, Department of Defence

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

Good morning,

 

Thank you for contacting Freedom of Information at the Department of
Defence.

We have received your email and you will be advised of the status of your
inquiry by an FOI team member soon.

 

Kind regards,

 

Lauren Semaan | Freedom of Information
Enterprise Transformation Branch | Enterprise Transformation and
Governance Division | Department of Defence

.

 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence.
Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email
may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in
error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email
immediately.

 

 

FOI Case Management, Department of Defence

OFFICIAL

Dear Ben

 

I refer to your correspondence of 28 May 2021 seeking access, under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to documents held by the
Department of Defence (Defence). This email is to advise you that your
request has been received and allocated to a Case Manager.

 

The scope of your request is:

 

“1. A copy of the final directive issued to Defence personnel referred to
in the ABC article.
[1]https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-21/d...

To quote:

“The military has been ordered to stop holding morning teas which
celebrate diversity and inclusion, as Defence chiefs remind personnel
their "primary mission" is to protect Australia.”

 

2. A copy of all drafts created of the directive.

 

3. A copy of any comments or correspondence made in relation to any of the
drafts.

 

4. A copy of any correspondence with any ministerial office, minister or
member of parliament that relates to LGBTI or IDAHOBIT in 2021.

 

5. A copy of any correspondence with Defence Leadership (SES/chiefs)
including their assistants) that relates to LGBTI or IDAHOBIT in 2021”

 

Please note that Defence does not release information that is considered
‘personal information’ of individuals other than the applicant; this
includes private email addresses, signatures, personnel (PMKeyS) numbers
and mobile telephone numbers, unless you specifically request such
details. Defence excludes duplicates of documents and any documents sent
to or from you. Furthermore, Defence only considers final versions of
documents.

 

If you are seeking personal details of other individuals, please advise
this office by 03 June 2021 so that the decision maker can consider your
request.

 

Defence may impose a charge for the work involved in providing access to
the documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Charges)
Regulations. You will be notified separately if your request attracts a
charge. Please note that there is no charge for documents that contain the
personal information of the applicant.

 

The statutory deadline for you to receive a response to your request is 27
June 2021.

 

Please note that where the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public
holiday, the timeframe will expire on the next working day. This is in
accordance with the FOI Guidelines issued by the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner.

 

I am the Case Manager for this request. Should you have any questions
relating to your request, please do not hesitate to contact me via email
to [2][email address].

 

Regards

 

Lauren | Freedom of Information
Enterprise Transformation Branch | Enterprise Transformation and
Governance Division | Department of Defence

.

 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence.
Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email
may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in
error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email
immediately.

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-21/d...
2. mailto:[email address]

Dear Lauren,

Thank you for your acknowledgement. I am concerned about this section of your response:

"Please note that Defence does not release information that is considered ‘personal information’ of individuals other than the applicant; this includes private email addresses, signatures, personnel (PMKeyS) numbers and mobile telephone numbers, unless you specifically request such
details. Defence excludes duplicates of documents and any documents sent to or from you. Furthermore, Defence only considers final versions of documents."

I respectfully note that the above is inconsistent with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and the Freedom of Information Guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner. As I'm sure you are no doubt aware, the 'personal information' exemption is a conditional exemption and the decision maker is required to take several factors into account before making a decision. Defence cannot unilaterally decide to exempt information without taking those factors into account.

Where personal information of Defence employees is concerned, the Freedom of Information Guidelines relevantly state:

"6.153 Where public servants’ personal information is included in a document because of their usual duties or responsibilities, it would not be unreasonable to disclose unless special circumstances existed....."

Please process my request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the Freedom of Information Guidelines.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless