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How can I access the information government holds about me?

Many agencies have arrangements in place to give you information they hold about you if you ask. You can also make an access request under the FOI Act, and the agency or minister must follow the formal processes set out in the Act. For more information, see FOI fact sheet 5: Your personal information.

What is 'personal information'?

Personal information is information that identifies you or could identify you. Your name and address are obvious examples. In some cases, your date of birth and post code may be enough to identify you. Personal information can also include medical records, bank account details, photographs, videos, and even information about your opinions and where you work – basically, any information where you are reasonably identifiable.

For full details see FOI fact sheet 5: Your personal information.

How do I apply under the Privacy Act?

Australian Privacy Principle 12 (APP 12) of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) requires an agency or minister to give you access to your personal information, except when a law provides otherwise. You need to contact the agency that holds your personal information and request access. You do not have to make your request in writing or state that you are requesting access under APP 12. However it may help with the processing of your request if you follow any agency request procedures (for example, the agency may have a dedicated email address for information requests). If you disagree with the agency's decision, you can complain to the OAIC. For information about making a privacy complaint, see our privacy complaints page.

Can I get personal information about someone else?

Yes, if you have authority to act on that person's behalf. The agency will let you know what proof they require.

Otherwise, if your request covers documents that contain another person's personal or business information, the agency or minister may be required to consult that person before deciding to release the document. For full details, see FOI fact sheet 5: Your personal information and FOI fact sheet 11: Your rights if information about you or your business is requested.