By -

NSW Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd has had an extensive career in the public sector. After six years in the role, Tydd is as passionate as ever about promoting public awareness and understanding of the right to access government information. Tydd is also CEO of the Information and Privacy Commission NSW. She discusses her career and how government solicitors can best respond to the effects of COVID-19.

As Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Tydd reviews decisions and deals with complaints about access to information. She also reports to the Attorney General about proposed legislative and administrative change.

Throughout her career Tydd has actively influenced policy, most notably leading reform of the liquor and gaming industries as well as consumer protection laws. She has also undertaken a number of independent decision-making roles that have impacted the everyday lives of citizens and professionals.

“For me the best most sustainable independent decisions represent the outcome of significant input and expertise,” says Tydd.

Tydd believes we are facing generational change that is impacting almost every aspect of our lives. Accordingly, we need to ensure we uphold those things we see as vitally important.
“For me, that’s our democratic values, the integrity of our public institutions, citizen engagement and trust,” says Tydd.

“We are also experiencing the curtailment of rights, and solicitors have an active role to play in the reassertion of those rights.”

Australia is currently ranked tenth out of 31 countries in terms of the size of economic stimulus packages that respond to the COVID-19 crisis. As such, says Tydd, transparency and the sharing of information is vital to assessing the impact of stimulus policies and minimising fraud and corruption. “We are presented with a rare opportunity to leverage and improve digital tools to promote integrity and accountability,” she says.

“The Commonwealth government tracing app has the potential to assist governments and individuals to make better decisions about management and containment of COVID-19.”

Elizabeth Tydd Elizabeth Tydd

Accurate, real-time information is vital to global containment and the management of that information is essential to our democratic values.

Elizabeth Tydd, Information Commissioner

Tydd is committed to digitally transforming the public sector, particularly in the face of a global pandemic that has forced many to work remotely.

“Government is experiencing change on every level,” she says.

“Our institutions and their responsibilities have changed dramatically and with that has come significant changes in the way in which decisions are made and the way services are delivered.”

Despite the challenges, Tydd loves her role, calling it a “career highlight” that combines her personal values and professional commitment.

She attributes some of her success to being an active and loyal member of the Law Society of NSW.

“The professional development, networks and the Law Society Journal have benefited me in many ways,” says Tydd.

“The journal in particular has such a wide reach that has helped me to convey messages about the importance of information access and challenges at a time of digital transformation.”