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Access to Information

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Your rights under the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right to:

  • access copies of documents the Inspector holds (except exempt documents)
  • ask for information the Inspector holds about you to be changed or annotated if you think it is incomplete, misleading or wrong
  • seek a review of a decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.

Your request will be considered, and any documents found to be in scope of the request will be reviewed. The Inspector can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents, that are exempt.

You also have rights when someone requests a document containing information about you or your business under the FOI Act.

Documents available outside the FOI Act

You can access some information without following a formal process under the FOI Act. You can find information on this website, other government websites and on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.

You can also check the information we have published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already available.

Exempt documents

You can’t access a document that is exempt under the FOI Act.

Exemptions may apply to a document:

  • that affects national security, defence or international relations
  • of the Federal Cabinet
  • that affects law enforcement and public safety
  • where legal professional privilege applies
  • that has material collected in confidence
  • whose disclosure would be in contempt of parliament or in contempt of court.

If a document is conditionally exempt under the FOI Act, the Inspector must also decide if disclosing the document would be against the public interest.

Conditional exemptions may apply to a document that has, for example:

  • personal information that would be unreasonable to disclose
  • information about certain operations of an agency (such as an agency’s operations, audit, examination or employee management)
  • information about the deliberative processes relating to an agency’s functions
  • information that could damage federal and state government relations.

For more information about exemptions, see the OAIC FOI Guidelines.

How to make an FOI request

To make an FOI request, 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) you wish to access so that we can process your request
  • provide an address for reply.

Addressing all of this information will allow the Inspector to assess your request and respond as soon as possible. There may be delays in processing your request if any information above is not provided.

You can send your request:

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for an FOI request.

There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. Processing charges may apply to other types of requests.

The most common charges are:

Activity item


Search and retrieval: time we spend searching for or retrieving a document$15 per hour
Decision making: time we spend in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions
First five hours: Nil
Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium$4.40 per page of transcript
Photocopy$0.10 per page
Inspection: supervision by an agency officer of your inspection of documents or hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording at our premises$6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery: sending or delivering a copy of a document at your requestCost of postage or delivery

If there is a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20. Where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.

You can ask us to waive or reduce the charge for any reason including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. You should explain your reasons, and you may need to provide some evidence.

What you can expect

We will tell you we have received your request within 14 days. We will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request.

We will give you the Inspector’s decision within 30 days unless that time is extended by the Australian Information Commissioner. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them. This means we may need to seek to extend the time 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.

The Inspector can refuse access to some documents or parts of documents that are exempt.

If you disagree with the decision

When the Inspector has made a decision about your FOI request, you will be sent a letter explaining the Inspector’s decision and your review and appeal rights.

You can ask the Inspector to review the following decisions:

  • if the Inspector refuses to give you access to all or part of a document
  • if the Inspector imposes a charge
  • if the Inspector refuses to make corrections to personal information about you that you claim is wrong.

A third party who disagrees with the Inspector’s decision to give you documents containing information about them can also ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Review of decision

You can request in writing that the Inspector reviews the decision. The Inspector will advise you of the outcome within thirty days of receiving your request.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review the Inspector’s decision. You can do this within 60 days of the date of decision, or 30 days after we notify you 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 from the OAIC website.


If you are unhappy with the way the Inspector has handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner. More information is available on the OAIC website.

Amendment of records in relation to sex or gender

You can use section 48 of the FOI Act to seek amendment to records the Inspector holds containing information about your sex and gender. In such requests, the Inspector will have regard to the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender in making the decision.

FOI Disclosure Log

Under section 11C of the FOI Act, the Inspector is required to publish a disclosure log on the website. The disclosure log lists information that has been released for public access in response to FOI requests.

View the FOI Disclosure Log.

Information Publication Scheme

The Inspector is subject to the FOI Act and must comply with the Information Publication Scheme requirements under that Act.