Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) every person has a right of access to documents held by Australian Government agencies. Some documents may be exempt because they are specified in the FOI Act as not being required to be disclosed. If we consider that someone applying under the FOI Act should not have access to a document we will explain the reason for that decision.

There is no charge if a person requests access to their personal information, or for the first five hours of decision making time for other requests.

A request for documents under the FOI Act needs to:

  • be made in writing
  • describe the document/s sought
  • provide a return address including an email address

The IAA will:

  • notify an applicant within 14 days of a request under the FOI Act that it has been received
  • notify an applicant of its decision as soon as practicable but within 30 calendar days after the day of receipt of the application
  • provide access, where relevant, as soon as reasonably practicable after notifying of the decision to grant access and any charges have been paid.

If the IAA decides to consult with a third party, for example because that person or entity contends that a document is exempt from access on a ground under the FOI Act such as privacy or because it discloses trade secrets, then the processing period is extended by 30 days. If this occurs, the IAA will notify the applicant that consultation is occurring.

An applicant can request access to a document or documents in one of these ways:

  • inspecting the document
  • having a copy or copies of the document/s
  • hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording
  • receiving a written transcript of an audio recording or a document written in code.

How do I make an FOI request?

You must:

For more information on the operation of the FOI Act please see the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

If you have a complaint about how an FOI application was handled, you can ask the IAA for an internal review and the matter will be reviewed by a more senior officer, without charge.