The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) empowers individuals like you to exercise your rights in accessing government-held information. Understanding the key aspects of the FOI Act can enhance your ability to obtain documents and ensure the accuracy of personal information. Here’s your guide to navigating this process:

Your Rights under FOI:

  1. Access Documents: The FOI Act grants you the right to access copies of documents held by the government, excluding exempt documents.

  2. Request Changes: You can request changes or annotations to your personal information if it is incomplete, outdated, incorrect, or misleading.

  3. Review Decisions: If access is denied or amendments are rejected, you have the right to seek a review of the decision.

Accessing Information Without an FOI Request:

Certain information, including personal details, can be obtained without a formal FOI process. Explore the Participant Information Access (PIA) Scheme for easy online requests. Check the Information Publication Scheme and FOI Disclosure Log for readily available information.

Evidence of Identity for Personal Information Requests:

When seeking documents containing personal information, proof of identity is required with your application. If seeking another person’s information, consent in the form of a signed letter within the last 12 months is necessary.

How to Make a Request:

Your request must be in writing, explicitly stating its purpose under the FOI Act. Provide relevant details about the document(s) and an address for the reply. Submit your request via email to or by mail to the Freedom of Information Section.

If you need assistance, call 1800 800 110.

Fees and Charges:

Making an FOI request is fee-free. While there are no charges for accessing personal information, processing charges may apply to other requests. Charges could include search and retrieval, photocopying, decision-making time, and supervision of inspections.

Timeline for FOIs:

Expect acknowledgment of your request within 14 days, along with an estimate of applicable charges. The decision will be provided within 30 days, with possible extensions if the request is complex or involves third-party consultations.

Due to increased requests and COVID-19 impacts, some delays may occur.

Reviews of FOI Decisions:

Upon receiving the decision letter, you have the right to request a review if access is denied, charges are imposed, or annotations are refused. Internal reviews are conducted within 30 days, and the Information Commissioner can be approached for an external review within 60 days.

Complaints about FOI Requests:

If dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complaints can be lodged with the Australian Information Commissioner or the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Both offices coordinate to prevent dual investigations.

Contacting Us About FOI:

For additional information or assistance, contact us directly. Access documents released under the FOI Act through the FOI Disclosure Log, and explore further details on our Information Publication Scheme page.

Empower yourself with the knowledge and tools provided by the FOI Act to ensure transparency and access to information.