What we do

Last updated: 2 October 2019

Our purpose is to promote and uphold privacy and information access rights. We do this by:

We:

  • conduct investigations
  • handle complaints
  • review decisions made under the FOI Act
  • monitor agency administration
  • advise the public, organisations and agencies

Why we can do it

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was set up by the AIC Act.

We are headed by the Australian Information Commissioner, who has a range of powers and responsibilities under the AIC Act, and exercises powers under the FOI Act, the Privacy Act and other laws.

The OAIC is an independent statutory agency in the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Our functions

Privacy

We are 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:

We have a range of responsibilities under other laws, including laws relating to data matching, eHealth, spent convictions and tax file numbers. See the Privacy Act and other legislation for more information.

We give information and advice on privacy to individuals, businesses and agencies through our enquiries team and our website.

Freedom of information

Our FOI functions include the oversight of the operation of the FOI Act and review of decisions made by agencies and ministers under that Act. If you are dissatisfied with the result of an FOI request, you may ask us to review it.

You can also complain to us if you are unhappy with the way your request was handled by an agency. We may initiate an own motion investigation (OMI). See FOI reports for information about previous investigations.

We give information and advice on FOI to individuals and agencies, through our enquiries team and our website.

Information policy

We oversee government information policy functions. This function is conferred on the Information Commissioner by the AIC Act. The Information Commissioner reports to the Attorney-General on matters relating to Australian Government information management policy and practice, including FOI and privacy. See Information policy to find out more about our role.

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