Access to OAIC information
This page is about accessing information that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) holds. Information about the OAIC’s freedom of information and information policy functions across government can be found on the 'What we do' page.
We make a range of information available for public access. You can formally request access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to documents we hold. Alternately we can give you certain information if you request it through other access arrangements we have set up, as outlined below.
Requesting information or documents
Most requests for information or copies of documents can be dealt with informally and quickly — a phone call or email may be all that is required. You can contact our enquiries line on 1300 363 992 or email email@example.com to informally request access to OAIC information. You also have the right, discussed below, to make an FOI request for documents containing the information.
Personal information held by the OAIC
Before making an FOI request to the OAIC for your personal information, you should consider speaking to an OAIC officer about the matter on 1300 363 992 or firstname.lastname@example.org. OAIC staff are able to provide certain kinds of personal information quickly and informally without an FOI request. This includes documents that have previously been provided to you by the office, records of conversation (if any) between yourself and OAIC staff, and most database entries relating to the progress of any complaint or application for IC review that you have made to the OAIC.
We will respond to informal requests for your personal information within 30 days. If we are unable to fulfil your informal request, we may ask you to make an FOI request for the information. You can also make an FOI request for the information at any time.
Information Publication Scheme
As required by the FOI Act, we have an Information Publication Scheme entry on our website that provides information on our structure, functions, appointments, annual reports, consultation arrangements, FOI officer, information we routinely release following FOI requests and information we routinely provide to Parliament.
FOI disclosure log
Our FOI disclosure log on our website lists information we have released in response to requests made under the FOI Act.
Other information we hold
OAIC datasets are available on data.gov.au.
Freedom of information requests
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, and
- seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.
You can ask to see any document that we hold. 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 an FOI request
Your request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
- provide information about the document(s) you wish to access so that we can process your request
- provide an address for reply.
You can send your request:
Attention; FOI Coordinator
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
If you need assistance to make an FOI request to the OAIC, please contact our enquiries line on 1300 363 992.
Fees and 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. For example, we generally will not charge you for giving you access to information about a complaint you have made to our office. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:
|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|
$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
Delivery: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request
Cost of postage or
If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.
Documents received from another agency
If we received the documents that you request from another agency, the FOI Act provides that we may transfer the request to that other agency. This may be done if the documents that you request were received from another agency in connection with a complaint investigation or Information Commissioner review being undertaken by the OAIC. Alternatively, the Information Commissioner may make a decision on your FOI request at the same time as making a decision on your FOI complaint or application for IC review of the agency FOI decision.
What you can expect from us
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of the charges that will apply. We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.
If you disagree with our decision
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.
You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:
- if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
- if we impose a charge
- if 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.
If you disagree with our decision on your FOI request to the OAIC, you have the right to apply for an internal review of the decision. An internal review will be conducted by another member of our staff who did not make the original decision.
If you wish to apply for an internal review, you must do so in writing within 30 days of receiving notice of our decision. There is no application fee for internal review.
Information Commissioner review of OAIC decisions
If you disagree with our decision on your FOI request to the OAIC, you may request a review of the decision by the Information Commissioner, even if you have not applied for internal review. However, where it is in the interest of the administration of the FOI Act to do so, the Information Commissioner can refer requests for review directly to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The Information Commissioner considers that it will usually not be in the interests of the administration of the FOI Act to conduct an IC review of a decision made by his own agency. For this reason, if you apply for IC review of an OAIC decision, the Information Commissioner may decide not to undertake an IC review on the basis that it is desirable that the decision be reviewed by the AAT.
Once the Information Commissioner has made that decision, you will be able to apply to the AAT. Please be aware that you cannot go directly to the AAT after receiving notice of an OAIC decision on your FOI request: you must first make an application for IC review.
Complaints about OAIC FOI decisions
If you are not satisfied with the way that we have handled your FOI request, you can complain to the Information Commissioner or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
If you choose to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner, your matter will be dealt with by the FOI Complaints area, independently of the FOI request or review process.
You can complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, by calling them on 1300 363 072.
Applications for internal review or IC review and complaints to the Information Commissioner can be submitted to:Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Alternatively, you may send your application or complaint by email to email@example.com, or by fax on 02 9284 9666.
If you require further information, please call our enquiries line on 1300 363 992.