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Access our information

Introduction

This page is about accessing information that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) holds.

There are a number of ways in which you may access information that the OAIC holds:

  • accessing information regarding the operations of the agency via the Information Publication Scheme
  • viewing information contained in documents accessed under the FOI Act via the OAIC FOI Disclosure Log
  • seeking administrative access to documents the agency holds
  • making a Freedom of Information request seeking access to documents the agency holds

To find out more about creating Access to Information web pages:

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Information Publication Scheme

Information Publication SchemeAs required by the FOI Act, the OAIC has 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.

To find out more about the IPS see:

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Administrative Access to Information

Requesting information or documents

You may request information from the OAIC through administrative access. Administrative access is a less formal process than making an FOI request.

Some examples of information that may be appropriate for administrative access include:

  • your own personal information (minimum requirements under APP12 of the Privacy Act must be met – see ‘Personal information held by the OAIC’)
  • data or statistics that are not already available online
  • policies and guidelines that are not already available online

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 or enquiries email to informally request access to OAIC information.

We are obliged, as a minimum, to deal with your requests to access your personal information in accordance with APP 12 of the Privacy Act (see ‘Personal information held by the OAIC’). For other documents, we will generally aim to provide you with administrative access to those documents within 30 days. Decisions to refuse documents under the administrative access are generally not reviewable. However, you also have the right, as discussed below, to make an FOI request for documents containing the information at any time. If we are unable to fulfil your administrative access request, we may ask you to make an FOI request for the information.

Personal information held by the OAIC

We must, under the Privacy Act, provide you with access on request to your personal information that the OAIC holds about you, subject to certain limitations.

OAIC staff are able to provide certain kinds of personal information quickly and informally through administrative access. 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 Information Commissioner review (IC review) that you have made to the OAIC.

We must respond to your request for your personal information within 30 days after you make your request. If we refuse to provide your personal information, we must provide you with a written statement of reasons. If you are unhappy with the way the OAIC has handled your access request for your personal information, you can make a privacy complaint to us. You can also make an FOI request for the information at any time.

Before making an FOI request to the OAIC for your personal information, you should consider speaking to an OAIC officer from our enquiries line about the matter.

Correction of Your Personal Information

You may also request that the OAIC corrects personal information that it holds about you. We must, having regard to the purpose of information we hold about you, take reasonable steps to correct your personal information if we are satisfied that it is inaccurate, not up-to-date, incomplete, irrelevant and misleading. We must respond to your request for correction to your personal information within 30 days.

Fees and charges

There is no charge or fee for administrative access.

Other information we hold

OAIC datasets are available on data.gov.au.

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Freedom of information requests to the OAIC

Requesting information or documents

Making an FOI request is a more formal process than administrative access, and may be suggested to you if the nature of the documents seek not appropriate for administrative access.

Your Rights

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
  • 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 does not involve your personal information, you may wish to access the OAIC’s FOI disclosure log.

How to make an FOI request to the OAIC

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: foi@oaic.gov.au

By post:
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:

Fees and Charges
Activity item Charge

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

Photocopy

$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
  • 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.

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 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 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/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 see our contact page.

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