The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) covers:
- Australian Government ministers
- most, but not all, Australian Government agencies
- the Administration of Norfolk Island.
Requests to agencies and Ministers
You can request access to any document held by an agency. Requests to ministers, on the other hand, must relate to an ‘official document of a minister’. This means a document held by a current minister about the affairs of an Australian Government agency. It does not include a minister’s personal or party political documents, or documents about their electorate affairs.
Some agencies, such as the six intelligence agencies, are wholly exempt from the FOI Act. Furthermore, all agencies are exempt from the FOI Act in relation documents received from or originating with those intelligence agencies.
Other agencies are exempt in relation to particular documents, such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in relation to program material. There are also several agencies, such as the courts, which are only covered in respect to administrative documents.
For more information on who is covered see Part 2 — 'Scope of the application of the FOI Act in our Guidelines to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 issued under s 93A of the FOI Act and the chart in FOI Agency Resource 12 — Defining an agency.
Other freedom of information jurisdictions
All Australian States and Territories also have freedom of information laws covering their public sectors. Various international freedom of information laws also exist.