The object of the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) is to extend, as far as possible, the Australian community's right of access to information in the possession of the Australian government.

The FOI Act applies to the documents held by most Australian Government agencies. It also applies to documents held by Ministers that relate to the affairs of those agencies. An agency must make a decision about an FOI application within 30 days, but this period may be extended where third party consultation is required, charges are imposed, or for other reasons set out in the FOI Act.

There is no application fee. Processing charges may apply under certain circumstances, but may be reduced or waived on grounds including hardship or the public interest.

FOI requests must be made in writing. Requests to the Ombudsman may be delivered in any of the following ways:

The Ombudsman may be able to provide certain kinds of documents outside the FOI Act, such as documents previously and lawfully provided by or to the complainant by the Ombudsman's office.