It’s your Right to Know

Portrait photo of Angelene Falk

This International Right to Know Day (#RTK2018) we join more than 100 countries across the globe that have implemented a form of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

The idea of Right to Know Day was proposed during a meeting of information access advocates in Bulgaria in September 2002.

Since then it has grown into a global event that recognises the community’s right to access government-held information, and reinforces its role in promoting transparency and accountability.

In Australia, we have recognised this right for more than 35 years, since the Freedom of Information Act 1982 gave individuals the right to access documents from Australian Government agencies and ministers.

The FOI Act acknowledges that government-held information is a national resource that should be managed for public purposes. It is intended to promote democracy by increasing public participation, scrutiny and discussion, and lead to better-informed decision-making.

The FOI Act also requires Australian Government agencies to proactively publish a range of important information.

Promoting and upholding information access rights are at the core of our work at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner under both the FOI Act and the Privacy Act 1988. This includes helping the community to understand their rights and the application process.

This #RTK2018, we also recognise the important role played by FOI practitioners as part of the effective management of this national resource. The OAIC is fostering best practice through engaging with practitioners and providing information and resources.

Please join us in celebrating the right to know at one of the many #RTK2018 events across the country this week. You can also visit our website to learn more about FOI and our work to promote open government.

Angelene Falk
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner

FOI videos

Watch and share these videos on the Commonwealth FOI Act.

Show your support

Raise awareness about our right to access government information by supporting Right to Know Day this September. Access these materials below.


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Public event

Solomon Lecture 2018

11.00am to 12.30pm
Monday 24 September


The Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland will be holding the annual Solomon Lecture. This year, the lecture will explore how open, transparent government is threatened from a range of ideological extremes. Those who constantly question our liberal democracy and its values, including fundamental human rights and the rule of law, neither value good government nor vital elements of it, such as Right to Information legislation.

Dr Solomon's ongoing legacy will be the focus of the lecture with Professor Ken Smith reminding us of the obligation to ensure public institutions are clear about the need, at all times, to serve the public interest, rather than narrower sectional interests. Professor Smith argues that it is only with this ongoing focus that we can expect that public trust in our democratic institutions will be restored.

View the live stream

Public event

Freedom of Information in Australia: best practice or insignificance?

6.00pm to 7.30pm
Monday 24 September

Monash Conference Centre, Melbourne

This public forum will explore where information access is currently at in Australia and what can be done to improve it.

The 41st Premier of Victoria John Cain will provide opening remarks, followed by a panel discussion.

This event is presented by the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University and the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner as part of Right to Know Week and the Media Matters series.

This event is now sold out.

For government officers

ICON information session

9.00am until 11.00am
Tuesday 25 September

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will hold its second ICON session for 2018, at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra on 25 September, as part of a series of events for Right to Know.

This ICON session will feature a keynote address from the Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner, Ms Angelene Falk. This will be followed by a presentation and panel discussion on the role of the FOI practitioner in promoting accountability and transparency. The discussion will be opened up to the audience for a Q&A session, followed by morning tea and networking.

Please note, this event is for representatives of government agencies and ministers.

Registrations for this event have now closed.

Public event

Citizen event

7.30am to 11.30am
Wednesday 26 September

Central Grand Concourse, Sydney

As part of the Right to Know campaign, the NSW Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd will be hosting a citizen event at Central Grand Concourse (Country Trains area) on Wednesday 26 September from 7.30am to 11.30am, to share information about your right to know and how the IPC can help you use it.

Pop down, or stop by on your commute for a chat with the Commissioner and the IPC team about your right to access NSW government information, and to grab some cookies!

Public event

Right to Know Day

7.00am to 9.30am
Friday 28 September

Wynyard Park, Sydney

Want to learn more about your right to know and the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act? Visit the OAIC’s information booth at Wynyard Park to celebrate international Right to Know Day. The OAIC’s Freedom of Information team will be on hand to talk to you about your rights.


How to make an FOI 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.

Read more

Twelve tips for FOI decision makers

Follow these tips for better practice under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

  1. Government information is a national resource
  2. Know the law
  3. Help applicants
  4. Search thoroughly
  5. Meet the timeframes
  6. Transfer requests early
  7. Consider if charges are warranted
  8. Keep good records
  9. Know what's in the public interest
  10. Decide each case on its own merits
  11. Explain your decision
  12. Be part of a network.

Read the twelve tips in more detail