Last updated: 22 May 2024

Documents the OAIC holds

The OAIC is not a central repository for documents held by Commonwealth agencies. The OAIC regulates the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Privacy Act) and the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act). The OAIC has the power to investigate complaints about the alleged mishandling of personal information by Australian and Norfolk Island government agencies and many private sector organisations, as well as the power to review FOI decisions of Australian and Norfolk Island government agencies.

If you have made a complaint to the OAIC or lodged a request for an IC review with the OAIC, we will hold documents in relation to that matter.  You can request a copy of those documents and can also lodge a request for documents including policy and guidance material that the OAIC may refer to in its decision.

How to make an FOI request to the OAIC

If you would like to make an FOI request for documents the OAIC holds 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:

By email:

By post:
Attention, FOI Coordinator
GPO Box 5288
Sydney NSW 2001

If you need help to make an FOI request to the OAIC, please contact us. Please see below further information about the documents the OAIC does not hold.

Documents the OAIC does not hold

The OAIC is not a central repository for documents held by Commonwealth or State based agencies. You will need to make applications to the relevant entity directly. If you are not sure as to where to direct your FOI request, please contact us via our enquiry webform and we will assist you.

For example, the OAIC does not hold the following information.

Police records

You can request copies of police records by making an application to the relevant state or federal police force:

Medical records

You can request copies of medical records from local hospital, Department of Health in your state or territory or the medical service provider.   More information about how to access your health information is available Access your health information.

Records relating to other Commonwealth agencies

You can request copies of documents directly from other Commonwealth agencies, such as:

For other Commonwealth and State agencies, you can generally identify how to make a freedom of information request by accessing their website and searching for “freedom of information”.

Your rights

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (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
  • 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 access any document 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.

If you are seeking access to documents that do not involve your personal information, you may wish to access the OAIC’s FOI disclosure log.

We’re committed to taking a proactive approach to publishing information. Our Information Publication Scheme (IPS) sets out the categories of information we publish in our IPS entry, along with links to the information or documents.

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:

Activity item


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 (or part thereof)

Delivery: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request

Cost of postage or delivery

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 IC review being undertaken by the OAIC. Alternatively, the Australian Information Commissioner (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 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
  • impose a charge
  • 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

Internal review

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 Australian Information Commissioner (Information Commissioner), even if you have not applied for internal review.

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 their 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 Administrative Appeals Tribunal (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 make a complaint 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 a member of our staff other than the case officer or decision maker for your FOI request.

You can complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman by calling them on 1300 363 072.

How to make an application or a complaint

To make an application for internal review or IC review or to make a complaint please contact us.