How to make a freedom of information (FOI) request

Introduction

The object of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) is to give the Australian community access to information held by the Australian Government.

The FOI Act aims to achieve this objective by:

  • requiring agencies to publish certain information on a website
  • provide for a right of access to documents.

Right of access under the FOI Act

The FOI Act gives any person 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  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading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.

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 Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.

How to make a Freedom of Information application

Applications for access to documents must:

  • be in writing;
  • state that the application is made under the FOI Act;
  • provide enough information concerning the documents sought as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of the department to identify them; and
  • give details of how notices may be sent to the applicant (for example, a postal or email address).

Applications to the department may be sent to the department in one of the following ways:

Via email to the following address: FOI@education.gov.au

Via pre-paid post:
To the address of any central or regional office of this department specified in a current telephone directory.

We prefer that you mail your request to the following address:

The FOI Coordinator
Schools, Youth, Child Care and Corporate Legal Branch
Location Code: C50MA10 - LEGAL
GPO  BOX  9880
CANBERRA  ACT  2601

Delivery in person:
To an officer of the department at the address of any central or regional office of this department specified in a current telephone directory.

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. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

Activity item

Charge

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

What happens after your application is submitted?

  1. A FOI officer in the department will deal with your application in accordance with the requirements under the FOI Act and will make a decision on access to the documents you have requested.
  2. We will acknowledge receipt of your FOI request.
  3. If you are liable to pay a processing charge we will send you an assessment of the charge as soon as practicable.
  4. 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.

If you disagree with our decision

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:

  • decisions where we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or we defer giving you access
  • decisions where we impose a charge
  • decisions where we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is 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.

Internal review

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.

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 Australian 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.

Complaints

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.  

More information

If you require more information, please contact a member of the FOI Team by e-mail to FOI@education.gov.au.  

Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log.