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How do I make a Freedom of Information request?

To make an FOI request you must:

  • make the request in writing (many agencies have forms on their websites)
  • state that it is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
  • provide information about the document(s) you want, to help the agency or minister identify them
  • give details about how notices can be sent to you (this can include an email address)
  • send your request to the agency or minister by either posting it or delivering to the address specified in the telephone directory, or sending it to the email or fax address.

You do not need to give any reasons why you want the information.

The agency will assist you to make a request that meets the requirements of the FOI Act. For full details see FOI fact sheet 6: How to apply and FOI fact sheet 9: What you can expect from government agencies.

Who can make an FOI request?

Every person has a legally enforceable right to request access to documents under the FOI Act. This includes companies and other organisations. You do not have to be an Australian citizen or be in Australia to make a request.

Can an agency or minister refuse to process my FOI request?

Yes. An agency or minister may refuse your FOI request if the work involved in processing it would substantially and unreasonably divert the agency's resources, or substantially and unreasonably interfere with the minister's functions. Your request can also be refused if the agency or minister cannot identify the documents that would meet your request.

If an agency or minister intends to refuse your request for one of these reasons, they must contact you first to discuss your request. You may be asked to provide more information or to refine your request. For further details see FOI fact sheet 9: What you can expect from government agencies.