Freedom of Information

FOI Complaints from 1 July 2016

From 1 July 2016, the Commonwealth Ombudsman will no longer investigate complaints about actions taken by Australian Government agencies relating to the handling of FOI matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will resume the investigation of such complaints from 1 July 2016. If you wish to complain about an agency’s processing of your FOI request, please contact the OAIC. Contact details can be found at:

Complaints that are currently being handled by the Commonwealth Ombudsman will remain with the Ombudsman and will not be transferred to the OAIC.

Making an FOI request

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, or 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.


Under the FOI Act, agencies cannot charge a processing fee (charge) for personal information. This Office mostly receives FOI requests relating to personal information, and therefore would rarely issue a charge to an applicant.

In the event the FOI Co-ordinator decides the Office will issue a charge, it will be calculated in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982.