Access to information
The FOI Act gives you the right to:
- access copies of documents we hold, except exempt documents.
- ask us to change or annotate information we hold about you if you think the information is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading.
- seek review of a decision we make to refuse access to a document you ask to see, or a decision to not to change or annotate your personal information.
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 documents that:
- relate to national security or international relations.
- would be in contempt of court if access were given.
- affect enforcement of law and public safety.
- are subject to legal professional privilege.
- contain material obtained in confidence
- Cabinet documents.
You can read more about your rights to access government documents on the Australian Information Commissioner Your FOI rights page.
How to make an FOI request
Submit your 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 documents to allow us to identify and find them.
- provide an address for reply.
You can submit your request through Contact us.
Proof of identity
If you are requesting access to your personal information, you must provide evidence of your identity. This is to ensure that no person's personal information is unreasonably disclosed, or disclosed without authorisation.
Proof of identity must clearly show that you are the person whose personal information is being requested or corrected. Acceptable identity documents for this purpose include:
- a passport; or
- a driver's licence issued by an Australian State or Territory; or
- other official identification in the English language that contains your photo, signature and address.
Identity documents must be certified as a true copy of the original by a person having the power to witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. Further information about statutory declarations, including a list of people who are authorised to witness one, is available on the Statutory declarations page on the Attorney-General's Department website.
We will tell you if you are required to provide proof of identity and how you can provide this information to us.
If you ask someone else to make a request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written authority to send copies of documents to you care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you.
If you request documents about another person
If you are seeking documents containing personal information about another person, you must provide evidence of both your identities. You must also provide evidence that you have the other person's consent to represent them and/or receive documents about them. You can do this by asking them to sign a letter of authorisation to allow the OSI to send documents about them to you.
What you can expect from us
We will confirm in writing within 14 days that we have received your request.
We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. We will tell you if this happens. We may extend the time to process your request if:
- you agree to an extension.
- a document contains information about a third party.
- the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner grants us an extension.
If we do not make a decision within 30 days (or another time if extended), you can apply to the Australian Information Commissioner to review our decision on the basis that we are deemed to have refused your request.
You can read more about timeframes for FOI requests on the Australian Information Commissioner How long does an agency have to process an FOI request page.
If you disagree with our decision
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review rights.
You can request a review if we:
- refuse to give you access to all or part of a document, or if we defer giving you access.
- impose a charge.
- refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
An affected third party who disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.
You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in our agency. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request for internal review. Please submit requests for internal review through the Contact Us page on our website.
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. You can Read more on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.
If you do not agree 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 website. 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.
Fees and charges
There is no application fee for an FOI request, application for amendment or annotation of a personal record, or an internal review 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 tell you if we decide to impose a charge for your request.
Further information about charges, including how and what amounts we may charge for processing a request is available in the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 2019 or on the What charges may apply? page on the OAIC website.
If we decide to impose 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, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.
We will notify you of the final amount of charges once a decision has been made on your request. Payment of the charges is required before you are given access to documents.
The FOI Act gives you the right to seek an internal review or review by the Information Commissioner of the decision to impose a charge.
The FOI Act requires us to publish information in a disclosure log within 10 working days from the date the FOI applicant was given access to a document. Our FOI disclosure log lists information we have released in response to requests made under the FOI Act.
Read more information related to Freedom of information on the OAIC website about:
Read more about the Freedom of Information Act on the Federal Register of Legislation website:
- Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010.
- Freedom of Information Act 1982.
- Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982.
- Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010.
- Freedom of Information (Prescribed Authorities, Principal Offices and Annual Report) Regulations 2017.
How to contact us
Contact our Information Access and Records Manager through Contact Us to:
- ask for help with making a request.
- make a request for access to documents.
- request internal review of a decision on access we have given you.
- enquire about documents on our disclosure log.