12 September 2019
Mr Michael Green
BY EMAIL: [FOI #5326 email]
In reply please quote:
Dear Mr Green,
Freedom of Information (FOI) request - Access Decision
On 22 March 2019, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) received a request for
access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the FOI Act).
The purpose of this letter is to provide you with a decision on your request for access under the
Scope of request
You have requested access to the following documents:
Documents in relation to the eligibility of persons applying for the Community Support
Program, according to nationality, ethnicity, religion or place of residence.
Please limit this to briefing papers, reports, guidance notes, policy documents and advice
the senior officials and the Minister.
Please limit this request to only documents since 2013.
On 05 September 2019, following the Department entering into a consultation process with
you under Section 24 of the FOI Act, you agreed to revise the scope of your request. The
Department understands that your revised scope is to seek "full, un-redacted access to the
Community Support Program (CSP) specific Guidelines prepared for Approved Proposing
We wrote to you on 06 September 2019 to confirm our
understanding and have not been responded with any further enquiry from you. I am
therefore of the view that the scope of your request is as follows:
Full, un-redacted access to the Community Support Program's specific Guidelines
prepared for Approved Proposing Organisations (APO’s)
For the purposes of my assessment and this decision, I have taken the view that you seek
the most recent version of the above Guidelines, which are dated 22 January 2019.
6 Chan Street Belconnen ACT 2617
PO Box 25 Belconnen ACT 2616 • Telephone: 02 6264 1111 • Fax: 02 6225 6970 • www.homeaffairs.gov.au
Authority to make decision
I am an officer authorised under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of
requests to access documents or to amend or annotate records.
In reaching my decision I referred to the following:
• the terms of your request
• the documents relevant to the request
• the FOI Act
• Guidelines published by the Office of the Information Commissioner under section 93A
of the FOI Act (the FOI Guidelines)
• advice from Departmental officers with responsibility for matters relating to the
documents to which you sought access
Documents in scope of request
The Department has identified one document as falling within the scope of your request.
This document was in the possession of the Department on 22 March 2019 when your
request was received.
The decision in relation to the documents in the possession of the Department which fall
within the scope of your request is as follows:
• Release 1 document in part with deletions
Reasons for Decision
Detailed reasons for my decision are set out below.
6.1 Section 22 of the FOI Act – deletion of exempt material
I find that parts of the document contain information that can reasonably be regarded as
irrelevant to your request for access.
In acknowledging your application we advised you of Departmental policy, which is that the
personal details of officers who are not in the Senior Executive Service (SES), as well as
the mobile and work contact details of SES staff which are contained in documents that fall
within scope wil be deleted. These details, along with other information so marked as
‘s.22(1)(a)(i )’, I find can reasonably be regarded as irrelevant to your request.
I have, therefore decided that those parts of the documents, which are marked
‘s.22(1)(a)(i )’, would disclose information that could reasonably be regarded as irrelevant
to your request, and have prepared an edited copy of the documents, with the irrelevant
material deleted pursuant to section 22(1)(a)(i ) of the FOI Act.
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6.2 Section 33 of the FOI Act – Documents affecting National Security, Defence or
Section 33(a)(i i) of the FOI Act permits the exemption of a document if disclosure of the
document would, or could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international
relations of the Commonwealth.
The FOI Guidelines provide that the phrase “international relations” has been interpreted
as meaning the ability of the Australian Government to maintain good working relations
with other governments and international organisations and to protect the flow of
information between them. The expectation of damage to international relations must be
reasonable in the circumstances, having regard to the nature of the information; the
circumstances in which it was communicated; and the nature and extent of the relationship.
There must be real and substantial grounds for the conclusion that are supported by
Taking the preceding guidance into account in a review of the document, I find that parts
of the document contain the Department’s priority caseloads for the 2018 / 2019 offshore
Humanitarian Program as applicable to the Community Support Program. These priorities
are informed by international stakeholders, which include the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), State and Territory governments and Non-
Government Organisations (NGOs). I consider that there is an ongoing requirement for the
input of these, and other, international stakeholders to frame priority caseloads of the
Humanitarian Program in future program years.
I consider that the relationship between the Australian Government and the international
stakeholders is a long and enduring relationship that must maintain a solid foundation into
the future for the successful delivery of the Humanitarian Program. I consider that the
Australian Government has relied on a flow of information from international stakeholders
in framing its priority caseloads in the 2018 / 2019 program year, and will continue to do so
in future program years. I find, therefore, that the release of the information marked
‘s.33(a)(i i)’ in the document would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to
the Australian Government’s relationship with these stakeholders were this information to
be released into the public sphere.
6.3 Section 47E of the FOI Act – Operations of Agencies
Section 47E(d) of the FOI Act provides that documents are conditionally exempt if
disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on
the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency.
I consider that the release of parts of the document marked ‘s.47E(d)’ would, or could
reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient
conduct of the operations of the Department.
The intention of the document is to assist APOs meet their obligations under a Deed of
Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs. The document contains information that
is integral to the operations of an approved APO and to the contractual relationship that
exists between an APO and the Department.
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I find that the release of some information within the document, were it to be used in any
unintended ways in the public domain, could have a substantial adverse effect on the
Department’s operations which are given effect via the operations of an APO.
Any disclosure resulting in the prejudice of the effectiveness of the Department’s
operational methods and procedures would result in the need for this Department, and
potentially its law enforcement partners, to change those methods and/or procedures to
avoid jeopardising their future effectiveness.
Accordingly, I find that the documents are conditionally exempt under section 47E(d) of the
FOI Act. Access to a conditionally exempt document must generally be given unless it
would be contrary to the public interest to do so. I have turned my mind to whether
disclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest, and have included my
reasoning in that regard below.
6.4 The public interest – section 11A of the FOI Act
As I have decided that parts of the documents are conditionally exempt, I am now required
to consider whether access to the conditionally exempt information would be contrary to
the public interest (section 11A of the FOI Act).
A part of a document which is conditionally exempt must also meet the public interest test
in section 11A(5) before an exemption may be claimed in respect of that part.
In summary, the test is whether access to the conditionally exempt part of the document
would be, on balance, contrary to the public interest.
In applying this test, I have noted the objects of the FOI Act and the importance of the other
factors listed in section 11B(3) of the FOI Act, being whether access to the document would
do any of the following:
promote the objects of this Act (including all the matters set out in sections 3 and
inform debate on a matter of public importance;
promote effective oversight of public expenditure;
allow a person to access his or her own personal information.
Having regard to the above:
• I am satisfied that access to the documents would promote the objects of the
• I consider that the subject matter of the documents does not seem to have the
character of public importance. The matter has a very limited scope and, in my
view, would be of interest to a very narrow section of the public.
• I consider that no insights into public expenditure wil be provided through
examination of the documents.
• I am satisfied that you do not require access to the documents in order to
access your own personal information.
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I have also considered the following factors that weigh against the release of the
conditionally exempt information in the documents:
• I consider that the disclosure of internal departmental contact details in the
document is information that is conditional y exempt under section 47E(d) as
it would have a substantial adverse effect on the operations of the Department.
The Department has established channels of communication for members of
the public into the Department, and I consider there is no public interest in
disclosing these operational contact details.
• I consider there to be a strong public interest in the Department being able to
manage its programs effectively towards the attainment of intended, and
strategic outcomes and that these outcomes stand to be undermined by the
release of certain information contained within the document.
I have also had regard to section 11B(4) which sets out the factors which are irrelevant to
my decision, which are:
a) access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth
Government, or cause a loss of confidence in the Commonwealth Government;
b) access to the document could result in any person misinterpreting or
misunderstanding the document;
c) the author of the document was (or is) of high seniority in the agency to which the
request for access to the document was made;
d) access to the document could result in confusion or unnecessary debate.
I have not taken into account any of those factors in this decision.
Upon balancing all of the above relevant public interest considerations, I have concluded
that the disclosure of the conditionally exempt information in the documents would be
contrary to the public interest and it is therefore exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act.
A copy of the FOI Act is available at https:/ www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A02562.
If you are unable to access the legislation through this website, please contact our office
for a copy.
Your Review Rights
If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to apply for an internal review by the
Department of this decision. Any request for internal review must be provided to the
Department within 30 days of you being notified of the decision. Where possible please
attach reasons why you believe a review of the decision is necessary. The internal review
wil be carried out by an officer other than the original decision maker and the Department
must make a review decision within 30 days.
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Applications for review should be sent to:
By email to: [email address]
By mail to:
Freedom of Information Section
Department of Home Affairs
PO Box 25
BELCONNEN ACT 2617
Review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
You may apply directly to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for
a review of this decision. You must apply in writing within 60 days of this notice. For further
information about review rights and how to submit a request for a review to the OAIC,
please see Fact Sheet 12 "Freedom of information – Your review rights", available online
at https:/ www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/foi-review-process.
Making a Complaint
You may complain to the Australian Information Commissioner about action taken by the
Department in relation to your request.
Your enquiries to the Australian Information Commissioner can be directed to:
Phone 1300 363 992 (local call charge)
Email [email address]
There is no particular form required to make a complaint to the Australian Information
Commissioner. The request should be in writing and should set out the grounds on which
it is considered that the action taken in relation to the request should be investigated and
identify the Department of Home Affairs as the relevant agency.
10 Contacting the FOI Section
Should you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI Section
at [DIBP request email].
Position number 60081621
Authorised Decision Maker | Freedom of Information Section
FOI and Records Management Branch
Productivity and Compliance Division | Corporate and Enabling Group
Department of Home Affairs
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