Freedom of Information (FOI) and your rights
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (external) (the FOI Act) gives you the right to:
- access copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold
- ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading
- seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.
You can ask to see any document that we hold.
We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt.
Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and other matters set out in the FOI Act.
Accessing information without an FOI request
You can get certain information, including personal information we hold about you, without following a formal process under the FOI Act.
You may contact the FOI team by email at [email protected] to find out whether the information you seek can be provided to you outside the FOI Act.
How to make a request
You can send your request to [email protected].
Your request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
- provide information about the document(s) to assist us to process your request
- provide an address for reply.
Fees and charges
There is no fee for making an FOI request.
There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests.
We will give you an estimate of any applicable charges. These may include:
- Search and retrieval of documents: $15.00 per hour
- Photocopying: $0.10 per page
- Decision making including time spent deciding to refuse or grant a request, examining documents and consulting with other parties: free for first 5 hours and $20.00 for subsequent hours.
- Supervision of your inspection of documents, audio or visual recording at our premises: $6.25 per half hour (or part thereof).
- Cost of postage or delivery. We may ask you to pay a deposit if the estimated cost of delivery is over $20.00.
Timeline for FOIs
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request.
We will also give you an estimate of any charges that apply to your request.
We will give you our decision within 30 days, unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time as the FOI legislation allows to give you our decision by another 30 days.
We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex and want to inform you that, unfortunately, due to a large increase in FOI requests over recent months, together with the impact on staff and agency operations of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently experiencing delays in processing matters.
As a result, whilst we will endeavour to process your matter within the legislative deadlines, we may need to ask for an extension of time, and appreciate your understanding if this is required.
Reviews of FOI decisions
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights.
You can ask for one of the following decisions to be reviewed:
- if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
- if we impose a charge
- if we refuse to charge or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
If we decide to give you documents that contain information about other people, they can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.
You can request in writing an internal review of our decision. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in our agency, usually senior to the original decision-maker. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request.
Information Commissioner review
You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our decision on internal review within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third party).
The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website (external) .
Complaints about FOI requests
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available on the OAIC's website (external) .
The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.
Contact us about FOI
If you require more information, please contact us.