Secrecy infects health of Australian democracy

Secrecy is the golden staph infecting government and bureaucracy throughout Australia. CLA often rails against it in whistleblowing, FOI, federal police and ASIO areas, but here’s medical proof of how bureaucratic control freaks in government are harming the free flow of health research and knowledge in Australia.
Government secrecy suppresses health research information

7 May 08:

In nearly nine out of 10 cases of medical research in Australia, government suppression of information meant the public was uninformed or given a false impression, acccording to an article in the April 2008 Medical Journal of Australia.

“Australian governments regularly suppress embarrassing information by hindering public health research or publication of its findings,” writes Prof D’Arcy Holman of the University of WA.

“Two issues of immediate relevance…are the protection of academic independence, and the crucial role of objective evidence in improving outcomes of the Australian health system,” he says (MJA 2008; 188 (8): 435-436) Examples* used to illustrate the article include:

A reported 142 witnessed suppression events, including 85 separate instances where 64 respondents (21%) had their own research affected.

Governments most commonly suppressed research by sanitising the results or by delaying or prohibiting the publication of results (66% of events), but no part of the research process was unaffected.

In 48% of cases, the affected researchers believed their work was targeted for suppression because it drew attention to failings in health services. Another 26% of cases related to the health status of a vulnerable group (such as Indigenous Australians, refugees or people with mental illness), while in a further 11% the research had pointed to an environmental harm.

In 87% of instances, the government agency succeeded, leaving the public uninformed or giving it a false impression.

For full MJA article, click here.

* Yazahmeidi B, Holman CDJ. A survey of suppression of public health information by Australian governments. Aust N Z J Public Health 2007; 31: 551-557. (302 public health academics at 17 Australian universities, conducted in August 2006).

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