Freedom of information

The Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides the following review options for those people who have sought access to documents under the Act, and are not satisfied with the response of an Australian Government department or agency to their request:

Internal review

If an agency makes an FOI decision that you disagree with, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. The review will be carried out by a different agency officer, usually someone at a more senior level. There is no charge for internal review.

You must apply within 30 days of being notified of the decision. You should contact the agency if you wish to seek an extension. The agency must make a review decision within 30 days. If it does not do so, its original decision is considered to be affirmed.

Internal review is not available if a minister or the chief officer of the agency made the decision personally.

Review by the Australian Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is an independent office holder who can review the decisions of agencies and ministers under the FOI Act. You may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for review. However, going through the agency’s internal review process gives the agency the opportunity to reconsider its initial decision, and your needs may be met more quickly without undergoing an external review process. There is no fee to apply for a review by the Information Commissioner.

Information about FOI reviews and complaints is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website.

Freedom of Information (FOI)

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides a general right of access to documents held by government agencies. The FOI Act requires decisions on access to be made promptly and at relatively low cost. It permits requests for documents to be refused for specific reasons related to the work of government or the interests of third parties, with all decisions subject to internal and external review. The Act provides a special right to complain to the Ombudsman about actions related to a request.  The Ombudsman has responsibility for investigating agency actions under the FOI Act, including decisions, delays, and refusal or failure to act.