The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is an independent statutory agency within the Attorney General's portfolio.
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About the OAIC
The OAIC has three primary functions:
- privacy functions, conferred by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and other laws
- freedom of information functions, in particular, oversight of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and review of decisions made by agencies and ministers under that Act
- government information policy functions, conferred on the Australian Information Commissioner under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010.
The OAIC's responsibilities include:
- conducting investigations
- reviewing decisions made under the FOI Act
- handling complaints
- monitoring agency administration
- providing advice to the public, government agencies and businesses.
The OAIC was established under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (AIC Act), which provides for the appointment of the Australian Information Commissioner (Information Commissioner), the Privacy Commissioner (previously appointed under the Privacy Act 1988) and the Freedom of Information Commissioner (FOI Commissioner).
The first Privacy Commissioner was appointed in 1989. Major changes to federal freedom of information (FOI) law made in 2010 established the OAIC as the body responsible for privacy, FOI and information policy functions. The AIC Act was passed on 13 May 2010, received Royal Assent on 31 May 2010, and came into effect on 1 November 2010. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which was the national privacy regulator, was integrated into the OAIC at this time.
The OAIC currently has one commissioner: the Information Commissioner. Despite their titles, all commissioners can exercise the privacy and freedom of information (FOI) functions. However, only the Information Commissioner may exercise the information policy functions.
Our ABN is 85 249 230 937.
The OAIC is responsible for privacy functions that are conferred by the Privacy Act and other laws. Under the Privacy Act a person can make a complaint to us about the handling of their personal information by Australian, ACT and Norfolk Island government agencies and private sector organisations covered by the Privacy Act.
The OAIC also has the power to:
- commence a Commissioner initiated investigation (CII) into an act or practice that might breach the Privacy Act
- conduct a privacy performance assessment of whether an entity is maintaining and handling personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act.
- request an entity to develop an enforceable code, and register codes that have been developed on the initiative of an entity, at the OAIC’s request or by the Commissioner directly
- direct an agency to give the OAIC a privacy impact assessment about a proposed activity or function
- recognise external dispute resolution schemes to handle particular privacy-related complaints.
The OAIC has a range of responsibilities under other laws, including laws relating to data matching, eHealth, spent convictions and tax file numbers. For further information about these responsibilities see our Privacy Act and Other legislation sections.
The OAIC provides information and advice on privacy to individuals, businesses and agencies via our enquiries line.
For more information and advice, please see the Individuals sections of this site.
Freedom of information
The OAIC has FOI functions, including the oversight of the operation of the FOI Act and review of decisions made by agencies and ministers under that Act. If a person is dissatisfied with the result of an FOI request, they may seek review by the OAIC.
A person may also complain to us if they are unhappy with the manner in which their request was handled by an agency. The OAIC may initiate an own motion investigation (OMI). Reports on previous OMIs can be found in our FOI OMI reports section.
The OAIC can also provide information and advice on FOI to individuals and agencies, via our enquiries line.
For more information and advice, please see the FOI review process section of this website.
The OAIC oversees government information policy functions. This function is conferred on the Information Commissioner by the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010. The Information Commissioner reports to the Attorney-General on matters relating to Australian Government information management policy and practice, including FOI and privacy.
To find out more about the OAIC’s role in providing information policy advice, please see the Information policy section of this site.
Find out more
To find out what information we can provide to you, and how to obtain it, look at our Access to Information page.
The OAIC works with a large network of other organisations and committees, both nationally and internationally. If you would like more information about this, you can find it on our Networks page.
Information on careers with the OAIC can be found on Careers page.