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Information for Freedom of Information (FOI) 
Applicants 
 
July 2016  
Introduction  
 
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides a right of access to documents held 
by most Australian Government agencies, subject to certain exemptions. The Department of 
Communications and the Arts (the Department) processes FOI requests in line with: 
 
  the FOI Act  
  the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s FOI guidelines 
  this document 
 
Your rights 
 
The FOI Act gives any person the right to: 
 
  access copies of documents (except exempt documents) that we hold 
  ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out 
of date, incorrect or misleading 
  seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend 
your personal record 
 
How to make a FOI application 
 
You must write to us to apply for access to documents. Under the FOI Act, you do not need 
to use a special form. You are not required to disclose your identity and can use a 
pseudonym (unless you are requesting access to your personal information). Requests can 
also be made by another person on your behalf (see further information below).  
 
To make an FOI application, you should: 
 
  write to us to ask for access (you can email or write a letter) 
  state that your request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act 
  provide enough information to enable us to identify the documents being sought 
  tell us where we can send notices under the FOI Act – usually your email address or a 
postal address in Australia 

 

Send your application to one of the addresses below: 
Email 
Post 
The FOI Officer 
The FOI Officer 
Department of Communications and the Arts 
Department of Communications and the Arts 
[Department of Communications and the Arts request email]  
GPO Box 2154 
 
CANBERRA ACT 2601 
 
You can also contact the FOI Officer by phone at (02) 6271 7045. 
 
Applicants are asked to make FOI applications in a way that is not threatening, offensive or 
intimidating.  
 
Charges 
 
There is no fee for making a request, but the FOI Act provides that charges may be imposed 
for processing requests – these charges are assessed consistent with the Freedom of 
Information (Charges) Regulations 1982
.  
 
There are no charges for requests to access your own personal information, amend or 
annotate a personal record or apply for an internal review. You can ask for the charge to be 
waived or reduced, for instance, on grounds of financial hardship or the public interest. If you 
do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide evidence.  
 
Before processing your application, we will give you a written estimate of the total charge 
and the basis for that calculation. You will be required to pay the full amount (less any 
deposit received) before you are given access to the documents. 
 
Timing  
 
We will acknowledge receipt of your request within 14 days, and give you our decision within 
30 days unless that time has been extended in accordance with the FOI Act. For example: 
  we will extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days  if we are 
required to consult with a third party (e.g. if a document contains a third party’s 
personal or business information); 
  where charges are imposed, processing time is suspended until you pay the deposit. 
 
Evidence of identity for requests to access personal 
information 
 
If you are seeking access to documents that contain your personal information, we will 
require evidence of your identity with your application. This evidence should include your 

 

physical address, as documents containing personal information may be sent to you by 
registered post rather than by email.  
 
Acceptable identity documents include: 
 
  a passport 
  an Australian driver's licence 
  any other official identification in the English language which contains your photo, 
signature and address 
 
A copy of these documents may be sent to us or scanned as an email attachment. Please 
have identification documents certified as a true copy of the original by a person having the 
power to witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. 
 
Requests made by another person on your behalf 
 
If another person is requesting documents on your behalf we will require a signed letter of 
authorisation from you as well as proof of the identity of that other person. The letter must 
specifically authorise the Department to either send copies of documents to that person or to 
allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing your personal information. 
 
Scope of documents which may be provided  
 
Exempt documents 
 
You can seek access to any document that we hold. However, we can refuse access to 
some documents, or parts of documents, that are exempt. Exempt documents may include 
those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence, 
Cabinet documents or documents subject to other exemptions set out in the FOI Act. 
 
Information presumed to be excluded  
 
Unless you request otherwise, we will exclude from the scope of an FOI request the 
following information: 
 
  personal information of junior ministerial staff and Departmental officers below the Senior 
Executive Service (SES) level  
  mobile phone numbers and signatures of Departmental and SES officers 
 
Duplicate documents  
 
Unless you request otherwise, we will also exclude duplicates such as:  
 
  in an email chain, earlier copies of emails – where the last email in the chain includes all 
previous emails and their timestamps 
  unsigned duplicates submitted for signature (only the signed copy of the document would 
be provided) 
 

 

If you disagree with our decision 
 
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining 
our decision and your review and appeal rights. You can ask for decisions to be reviewed if:  
 
  we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access 
  we impose a charge 
  we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, 
incorrect, out of date or misleading 
 
A third party who disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information 
about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed. 
 
Internal review 
 
You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An 
internal review will be conducted by another officer in our agency. We will advise you of the 
outcome of our Internal Review within 30 days of receiving your request. 
 
Australian Information Commissioner (IC) review  
 
You can ask the IC to review our original decision or our decision on internal review within 
60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third 
party). The IC can affirm or vary the decision, or substitute a new decision. 
 
Complaints  
 
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can:  
  make a complaint to us (at [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]);  
  if you are unsatisfied with the outcome of our complaint, refer your complaint to our 
Client Service Manager (at [email address]);  
  complain to the IC; or 
  make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman  
 
FOI disclosure log  
 
We publish a disclosure log on our website to meet the requirements of section 11C of the 
FOI Act. The disclosure log lists information that has been released in response to an FOI 
access request. Our FOI Disclosure Log is available at the link listed below.  
 
It is the Department’s practice to publish material on the disclosure log as close in time to the 
release of material to an applicant as is practicable.  
 
The disclosure log requirement does not apply to: 
 
  personal information about any person if publication of that information would be 
unreasonable; 

 

  information about the business, commercial, financial or professional affairs of any 
person if publication of that information would be unreasonable; 
  other information covered by a determination made by the Information Commissioner if 
publication of that information would be unreasonable; and 
  any information that is not reasonably practicable to publish because of the extent of 
modifications that would need to be made to delete the information listed above. 
 
If a document named in the disclosure log is not available for download, you can request a 
copy by emailing the FOI Officer. 
 
Links  
 
Freedom of Information Act 1982  
 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website 
 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner – Guide to the FOI Act 
 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner – FOI guidelines  
 
Administrative Appeals Tribunal  
 
Commonwealth Ombudsman 
 
Department Information Publication Scheme  
 
Department FOI disclosure log