Just a follow-up on my previous post about my FOI request regarding the Review of Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics in NSW government schools.
SPOILER: the response was unsatisfactory.
- 15 November - I made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the NSW Department of Education via Right To Know.
- I asked about the status of their review into religious education, as the $298k review was due nearly a year ago and we haven't heard a peep.
- 9 December - my email was forwarded to the Department of Education's Information Access Unit and I paid the $30 administration fee to initiate a formal request. Specifically, I asked for "the date on which the ARTD review was received and the timeline for the release of the findings of the review."
That brings us to 15 December. I got a phone call in the morning from the Information Access Unit to say I would receive an email that day with responses to my question. And I did! Right on the 30-day deadline following my request. Attached was a letter from Jason Miezis of Early Learning and Primary Education, stating:
"The 2015 Review of SRE and SEE in NSW Government Schools is complete. The department received the final report for the review of SRE and SEE in NSW Government schools on 23 March 2016 from ARTD Consultants and the recommendations are under consideration. The review is not yet publicly available."
So I got the date on which the report was received—nine months ago. What could possibly be in there that cannot be seen, or which takes nearly a year to respond to?
I got no answer to my second question regarding the timeline for release of the findings, only the statement, "The review is not yet publicly available."
Indeed it is not, and that's why I made the FOI request.
I've now asked for an internal review to try to get an actual answer to the question: "Is there a timeline for the release of the findings of the review, and if so, what is it; or is there no projected date for the findings to be released?"
In the phone call, I also received an apology for the fact that my request (which I'd asked to be answered informally if possible) was funnelled to the formal process under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. My $30 fee was refunded, which was nice.
Finally, they suggested that I check the department's Disclosure Log for similar requests, as "a number" of people are also "currently" asking about the SRE review. The only similar requests I can find in the disclosure log are from 2015: two requests for correspondence between the department and SRE providers. The information was "Released to applicant with deletions".