Freedom of Information – Your Review Rights
If you disagree with the decision made by the Department of Defence under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. You can ask
for external review by the Australian Information Commissioner.
Who will conduct the review?
The Information Commissioner is an
Staff of the Information Commissioner will
independent office holder who can review the
conduct the review. Only the Information
decisions of agencies under the FOI Act.
Commissioner, the FOI Commissioner or the
Privacy Commissioner can make a decision at
Do I have to pay?
the end of the review.
No. The Information Commissioner's review is
Does the Information Commissioner have to
review my matter?
How do I apply?
No. The Information Commissioner may decide
You must apply in writing and you can lodge
not to review an application that is frivolous,
your application in one of the following ways:
misconceived or lacking in substance, or if you
fail to cooperate with the process or cannot be
Post: GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601
contacted after reasonable attempts. You
Fax: +61 2 9284 9666
cannot appeal against that decision.
Email: [email address]
In person: Level 3,
Alternatively the Information Commissioner
175 Pitt Street,
may decide that the Administrative Appeals
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tribunal (AAT) would be better placed to review
the matter, and if so, will advise you of the
An application form is available on the website
procedure for applying to the AAT. This will not
at www.oaic.gov.au. Your application should
include a copy of the notice of the decision that
you are objecting to, and your contact details.
Can I withdraw my application?
You should also set out why you are objecting to
Yes. An application can be withdrawn at any
time before the Information Commissioner
makes a decision.
Can I get help in completing the application?
Yes. The Information Commissioner's staff are
What happens in the review process?
available to help you with your application if
The review process is designed to be as informal
anything is unclear.
as possible. The Information Commissioner may
contact you or any of the other parties to clarify
When do I have to apply?
matters and seek more information. The
If you are objecting to a decision to impose
Information Commissioner may also ask the
charges for access to documents, you must
agency to provide reasons for their decision if
apply to the Information Commissioner within
the reasons given were inadequate.
30 days of being given notice of the decision.
Most reviews will be made on the basis of the
You can ask the Information Commissioner for
submissions and papers provided by the parties.
an extension of time to apply, and this may be
Sometimes the Information Commissioner may
granted if the Information Commissioner
decide to hold a hearing if one of the parties
considers it is reasonable in the circumstances.
applies. Parties may participate in a hearing by
telephone. If confidential matters are raised, the
hearing may be held partly or wholly in private.
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Can someone else represent me?
After reviewing a decision, the Information
Yes, including a lawyer. However, the
Commissioner must do one of three things:
Information Commissioner prefers the process
set the decision aside and make a fresh decision
to be as informal and cost‐effective as possible
affirm the decision, or vary the decision.
and does not encourage legal representation.
The Information Commissioner will give reasons
for the decision.
What powers does the Information
Will the decision be made public?
While the review process is designed to be
Yes. The Information Commissioner will publish
informal, the Information Commissioner has
decisions on the website.
formal powers to require anyone to produce
information or documents, to compel anyone to
What can I do if I disagree with the Information
attend to answer questions and to take an oath
Commissioner's review decision?
or affirmation that their answers will be true.
You can appeal to the Administrative Appeals
An agency can also be ordered to undertake
Tribunal (AAT). The Information Commissioner
further searches for documents.
will not be a party to those proceedings. The fee
for lodging an AAT application is $884 (at 1 July
2016), although there are exemptions for health
What decisions can the Information
care and pension concession card holders and
the AAT can waive the fee on financial hardship
Making a complaint
You may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner about actions taken by Defence in relation
to your application. The complaint needs to be in writing and lodged in one of the ways indicated above
under the heading “How do I apply”.