Our reference: FOIREQ18/00169
Ms Verity Pane
By email: email@example.com
Your request for internal review
Dear Ms Pane,
I am writing to advise you of my decision on your application for internal review of a decision
to grant access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(Cth) (the FOI Act).
On 28 September 2018, you wrote to the OAIC requesting the following documents
under the FOI Act:
…all emails and other records of communication between Carl English, of the
OAIC, and DVA, for the period 18 August 2018 to 28 September 2018.
On 15 October 2018, you agreed:
to the redaction of phone numbers, email addresses and desk locations
to exclude from scope any document that refers to a private individual (which is
not a public servant carrying out their official duties, as that falls into official, not
private information), other than myself.
Scope of the internal review application
This internal review covers redactions made under sections 47F of the FOI Act, to documents
1, 2, 3 and 7.
Decision and reasons for decision
An internal review decision is a ‘fresh decision’ made by a person other than the person who
made the original decision (s 54C of the FOI Act).
I am an officer authorised under s 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to FOI
requests. In accordance with s 26 of the FOI Act, this is my statement of reasons.
1300 363 992
T +61 2 9284 9749
GPO Box 5218
F +61 2 9284 9666
Sydney NSW 2001
ABN 85 249 230 937
I have decided to grant access to the documents in part. A schedule of documents containing
the decision I have made is attached to this decision.
Material taken into account
I took the following material into account in making my decision:
• the documents under review
• the FOI Act
• the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under s 93A of
the FOI Act (FOI Guidelines), in particular Part 9, [6.124]-[6.130], [6.152] – [6.157].
Personal Privacy (s 47F)
Documents 1, 2, 3 and 7 contain personal information about a public servant.
‘Personal Information’ has the same meaning as in the Privacy Act 1988 (
the Privacy Act) (s
f FOI Act). Section 6(1) o
f the Privacy Act
‘personal information’ means information or an opinion about an identified individual,
or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:
(a) whether the information or opinion is true or not; and
(b) whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.
The FOI Guidelines explain that personal information can include a person’s name, address,
telephone number, date of birth, medical records, bank account details, taxation
information and signature.
The documents you have requested contain personal information, being the name of a
Accordingly, I am satisfied that this material is personal information for the purposes of s
Would disclosure involve an unreasonable disclosure of personal information?
In relation to the second requirement of s 47F, that disclosure under the FOI Act would
involve an unreasonable disclosure of personal information, s 47F(2) provides that a decision
maker must have regard to:
the extent to which the information is well known
whether the person to whom the information relates is known to be (or to
have been) associated with the matters dealt with in the document
the availability of the information from publicly accessible sources, and
any other matters that the agency or minister considers relevant.
It would ordinarily be reasonable for a public servant’s name to be released in documents
requested under FOI. However, in this particular case, the Department has provided
confidential submissions identifying special circumstances that would make it unreasonable
to disclose the surname of the public servant.
I cannot outline those submissions in this decision as they would be exempt under the FOI
Act. Section 26(2) of the FOI Act does not require information be outlined in an FOI decision
notice if it would be exempt under the FOI Act.
I have decided that the relevant material is conditionally exempt under s 47F.
Public interest test (s 11A(5))
In finding that the relevant material is conditionally exempt, I am therefore required to
consider whether it would be contrary to the public interest to give the applicant access to
conditionally exempt documents at this time (s 11A(5)).
In this case, the relevant public interest factor favouring disclosure would be that disclosure
would promote the objects of the FOI Act.
The public interest factors favouring disclosure must be balanced against any public interest
factors against disclosure. Disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the
protection of an individual’s right to privacy and could reasonably be expected to harm the
interests of an individual.
In this case, the factors against disclosure outweigh the factors in favour of disclosure. I am
satisfied that giving access to the relevant material would, on balance, be contrary to the
The relevant material is exempt under s 47F of the FOI Act.
Please see the following page for information about your review rights and information
about the OAIC’s disclosure log. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Yours sincerely Amanda Nowland
21 November 2018
Your review rights
If you disagree with my internal review decision, you may request a review by the
However, where it is in the interests of the administration of the FOI Act to do so, the
Information Commissioner can refer requests for review directly to the Administrative
Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The Information Commissioner considers that it will usually not be in the interests of the
administration of the FOI Act to conduct an IC review of a decision made by their own
agency. For this reason, if you apply for IC review of an OAIC decision, the Information
Commissioner may decide not to undertake an IC review on the basis that it is desirable that
the decision be reviewed by the AAT.
Once the Information Commissioner has made that decision, you will be able to apply to the
AAT. You cannot go directly to the AAT after receiving this notice decision; you must first
make an application for IC review. Information about requesting an IC review is available on
the OAIC website on the Requesting a review page.
If you are not satisfied with the way we have handled your FOI request, you can complain to
us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the other ways to contact us published on the
OAIC website. You can also complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Information about
how to do this is available on the Ombudsman website.
Section 11C of the FOI Act requires agencies to publish online documents released to
members of the public within 10 days of release, except if they contain personal or business
information that would be unreasonable to publish.
The documents released to you under this FOI request will not be published, as they contain
your personal information that would be unreasonable to publish.