Top 5 tips for FOI applicants

1. Look for self-service access portals or an administrative access policy

If you want to access documents relating to you, check the agency’s website to see whether they have a self-service access portal or have an administrative access policy. If in doubt, contact the agency to ask. You may be able to get the documents you’re looking for through an online enquiry or phone call.

2. Check agency websites

If you’re interested in accessing documents that are not about you, check the agency’s website. They may already publish this information in their FOI disclosure log or Information Publication Scheme entry. You can also look for the ‘Access to information’ icon.

3. Some statistics are already available for public use

Check out for some statistics and data sets that agencies have already made available for public use. This includes data published by the OAIC on freedom of information statistics.

4. Be clear in your request

It’s important to be specific and to the point. When you’re making an FOI request:

  • state that you’re requesting access to information under the FOI Act
  • state the document(s) you want, giving enough detail to help the agency or minister identify the document(s)
  • give an address or email address where the agency or minister can send you the document(s).

5. Complex or large requests will take more time

In most cases your FOI request will be decided in 30 days, however sometimes this period may be extended to allow the agency time to consult with third parties, or if your request is complex or covers many documents.