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Release of updated FOI Guidelines

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released an updated version of thirteen Parts of the Freedom of information guidelines (FOI guidelines) issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under s 93A of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The FOI Act requires Australian Government ministers and agencies to have regard to these guidelines when performing a function or exercising a power under the FOI Act.

Since their initial release, the FOI Guidelines have undergone periodic revision to ensure they reflect changes in legislation, the OAIC’s interpretation of the FOI Act including through IC review decisions, and other case law.

The new revisions are designed to provide up-to-date and practical guidance for FOI officers. The revisions also remove duplication, in particular, by consolidating Part 3 (Processing requests for access) and Part 8 (Decisions on FOI requests) into a single part.

A list of amendments can be found on the Summary of version changes to s 93A Guidelines webpage, including a comparison table for the consolidation of Parts 3 and 8.

Revisions of Parts 5 and 6 will be completed over coming weeks.

In line with the proposed legislative changes to the FOI Act stemming from the Government’s 2014 budget announcement to disband the OAIC from 31 December 2014, the Attorney-General’s Department will take responsibility for the FOI Guidelines from 1 January 2015.