The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides any person with a legal right of access to:
- copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold
- information we hold about you to be amended or annotated if it is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading, and
- 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, though we may refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or other matters as set out in the FOI Act. Further information about exemptions is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website at FOI Exemptions Fact Sheet.
Documents available outside the FOI Act
You can seek access to certain information, including personal information we hold about you, without following a formal process, such as under the FOI Act. For example, some documents concerning reviews of employment action or promotion reviews may be released, to you if you were involved in the review. You should also check the information we have published under the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) and on the FOI Disclosure Log to see if what you are seeking is already available.
Make a request
Your FOI 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.
You can send your request:
By post: FOI Officer, Australian Public Service Commission
B Block, Treasury Building,
Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601
By email: foi [at] apsc.gov.au
If you ask a third party to make an FOI request on your behalf, you may need to provide a specific, written authority for copies of documents to be released to you, care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you. If you request copies of documents containing information about you, we may require you to provide proof of identity to ensure we are providing the documents to the correct person.
If you require assistance with your request, please contact the APSC on (02) 6202 3500 and ask to speak to the FOI Officer or send an email to foi [at] apsc.gov.au
Fees and charges
There is no application fee to lodge an FOI request. There are no processing charges for requests to access documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests such as for policy documents or operational material. Details are outlined in the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982.
Summary of FOI (Charges):
|Search and retrieval: time we spend searching for or retrieving a document||$15.00 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: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request||Cost of postage or delivery|
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.
What you can expect from us
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 the processing of 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. This process may extend the time to receive your 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.
Reviews and complaints
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 the following decisions to be reviewed:
- decisions refusing access to all or part of a document or if we defer access
- decisions imposing a charge
- decisions refusing to amend records we hold about you, that you claim are incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
A 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. An application for internal review must be made within 30 days of receiving your notice of our decision. We will advise you of our new review decision within 30 days of receiving your internal review application.
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 at www.oaic.gov.au.
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 at www.oaic.gov.au. 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.
If you require more information, please contact the FOI Officer on (02) 6202 3500 or by email at foi [at] apsc.gov.au.
Details of how to access certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be found on our FOI Disclosure Log. Information which has been published by the Commission is also available on our Information Publication Scheme webpage.
The Australian Information Commissioner issues guidelines about the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) under section 93A of the Act. Section 93A also requires that Australian Government ministers and agencies must have regard to these guidelines when performing a function or exercising a power under the FOI Act. These FOI Guidelines are not legislative instruments. The current FOI Guidelines provide further information.