This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Scheduling of Thymosin Beta 4 and Tb500'.










FOI fact sheet 12
Freedom of information – Your review rights
April 2011
If you disagree with the decision of an Australian Government agency or minister under the Freedom of 
Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. You may want to seek 
review if you sought certain documents and were not given full access, if someone is to be granted access 
to information that is about you, if the agency has informed you that it will impose a charge for processing 
your request or if your application to have your personal information amended was not accepted. There 
are two ways you can ask for review of a decision: internal review by the agency, and external review by the 
Australian Information Commissioner.
Internal review
or would not address your concerns (for example, 
If an agency makes an FOI decision that you 
if you were not consulted about a document 
disagree with, you can ask the agency to review 
that contains your personal information before it 
its decision. The review will be carried out by a 
was released). For more information see FOI fact 
different agency officer, usually someone at a more 
sheet 13 – Freedom of information: How to make a 
senior level. There is no charge for internal review.
complaint.
You must apply within 30 days of being notified 
Do I have to go through the agency’s internal 
of the decision, unless the agency extended the 
review process first?
application time. You should contact the agency if 
you wish to seek an extension. The agency must 
No. You may apply directly to the Information 
make a review decision within 30 days. If it does 
Commissioner. However, going through the 
not do so, its original decision is considered to be 
agency’s internal review process gives the agency 
affirmed.
the opportunity to reconsider its initial decision, 
and your needs may be met more quickly without 
Internal review is not available if a minister or 
undergoing an external review process.
the chief officer of the agency made the decision 
personally.
Do I have to pay?
No. The Information Commissioner’s review is free.
Review by the Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner is an independent 
How do I apply?
office holder who can review the decisions of 
You must apply in writing and you can lodge your 
agencies and ministers under the FOI Act.
application in one of the following ways:
Is a review the same as a complaint?
online:  www.oaic.gov.au
post:   GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601
No. The Information Commissioner also investigates 
complaints about agency actions under the FOI Act. 
fax:  
+61 2 9284 9666
However, if you are complaining that an agency 
email:  [email address]
decision is wrong, it will be treated as an application 
in person:  Level 3, 
for a review. Your matter will be treated as a 
 
175 Pitt Street 
complaint when a review would not be practical 
 
Sydney NSW 2000
FOI Fact Sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights
1


An application form is available on the website at 
Can I withdraw my application?
www.oaic.gov.au. Your application should include 
Yes. An application can be withdrawn at any time 
a copy of the notice of the decision that you 
before the Information Commissioner makes a 
are objecting to (if one was provided), and your 
decision.
contact details. You should also set out why you are 
objecting to the decision.
What happens in the review process?
Can I get help in completing the application?
The review process is designed to be as informal 
as possible. The Information Commissioner 
Yes. The Information Commissioner’s staff are 
may contact you or any of the other parties to 
available to help you with your application if 
clarify matters and seek more information. The 
anything is unclear.
Information Commissioner may also ask the agency 
or minister to provide reasons for their decision if 
When do I have to apply?
the reasons given were inadequate.
If you are objecting to a decision to refuse access 
Most reviews will be made on the basis of the 
to documents, impose a charge or refuse to amend 
submissions and papers provided by the parties. 
a document, you must apply to the Information 
Sometimes the Information Commissioner may 
Commissioner within 60 days of being given notice 
decide to hold a hearing if one of the parties 
of the decision. If you are objecting to a decision 
applies. Parties may participate in a hearing by 
to grant access to another person, you must apply 
telephone. If confidential matters are raised, the 
within 30 days of being notified of that decision.
hearing may be held partly or wholly in private.
You can ask the Information Commissioner for an 
extension of time to apply, and this may be granted 
Will there be other parties to the review?
if the Information Commissioner considers it is 
There may be. The Information Commissioner 
reasonable in the circumstances.
can join other parties who are affected by the 
application. For example, if you are objecting to 
Who will conduct the review?
someone else being granted access to information 
Staff of the Information Commissioner will conduct 
that concerns you, that person may be joined in the 
the review. Only the Information Commissioner, the 
review.
FOI Commissioner or the Privacy Commissioner can 
make a decision at the end of the review.
Can someone else represent me?
Yes, including a lawyer. However, the Information 
Does the Information Commissioner have to 
Commissioner prefers the process to be as informal 
review my matter?
and cost-effective as possible and does not 
No. The Information Commissioner may decide 
encourage legal representation.
not to review an application that is frivolous, 
misconceived or lacking in substance, or if you fail to 
Will the Information Commissioner look at all 
cooperate with the process or cannot be contacted 
documents, including ones that are claimed to be 
after reasonable attempts. You cannot appeal 
exempt?
against that decision.
Yes. The Information Commissioner’s review is a 
Alternatively the Information Commissioner may 
fresh decision, so all the relevant material must be 
decide that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 
examined, including documents that the agency or 
(AAT) would be better placed to review the matter, 
minister has declined to release. Developments that 
and if so, will advise you of the procedure for 
have occurred since the original decision may also 
applying to the AAT. This will not be common.
be considered.
FOI Fact Sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights
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What powers does the Information Commissioner 
What can I do if I disagree with the Information 
have?
Commissioner’s review decision?
While the review process is designed to be informal, 
You can appeal to the AAT. The Information 
the Information Commissioner has formal powers 
Commissioner will not be a party to those 
to require anyone to produce information or 
proceedings. The fee for lodging an AAT application 
documents, to compel anyone to attend to answer 
is $777 (at November 2010), although there are 
questions and to take an oath or affirmation that 
exemptions for health care and pension concession 
their answers will be true.
card holders and the AAT can waive the fee on 
financial hardship grounds.
An agency or minister can also be ordered to 
undertake further searches for documents.
FOI applications made before 1 November 
What decisions can the Information Commissioner 
2010
make?
The Information Commissioner can only review an 
After reviewing a decision, the Information 
agency’s or minister’s FOI decision if you made your 
Commissioner must do one of three things:
FOI request on or after 1 November 2010. If you 
made your FOI request before 1 November, even if 
•  set the decision aside and make a fresh decision 
the decision was made after that date, the review 
•  affirm the decision, or 
process is different.
•  vary the decision. 
You must first ask the agency for internal review of 
The Information Commissioner will give reasons for 
the decision. You may then appeal to the AAT if you 
the decision.
are not satisfied with the decision.
Will the decision be made public?
The information provided in this fact sheet is of a 
Yes. The Information Commissioner will publish 
general nature. It is not a substitute for legal advice.
decisions on the website. Exempt material (that is, 
material that is not released) will not be included. 
For further information
Nor will the name of the review applicant, unless 
telephone: 1300 363 992  
that person requests otherwise or there is a special 
email: [email address]  
reason to publish it.
write: GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601 
or visit our website at www.oaic.gov.au
FOI Fact Sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights
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FOI Fact Sheet 13
Freedom of information – How to make a complaint
October 2010
You  may  complain  to  the  Australian  Information  Commissioner  if  you  have  concerns 
about  how  an  Australian  Government  agency  handled  a  request  for  documents  under 
the  Freedom  of  Information  Act  1982  (the  FOI  Act)  or  took  any  other  action  under  that 
Act.  If  you  are  unhappy  with  the  agency’s  decision  about  giving  or  refusing  access  to 
documents,  you  should  ask  for  the  decision  to  be  reviewed,  which  is  a  separate  process. 
Disagree with an FOI decision?
If  the  Information  Commissioner  decides  to 
investigate your complaint, the agency you have 
If  you  disagree  with  an  agency’s  or  minister’s 
complained about will be notified in writing of 
decision on your request under the FOI Act, you 
the  complaint.  The  Information  Commissioner 
have  the  right  to  have  the  decision  reviewed. 
conducts  investigations  of  complaints  in 
You  can  ask  an  agency  to  review  its  decision 
private.
internally.  You  also  have  the  right  to  ask  the 
Information Commissioner to review an agency’s 
Who can make a complaint?
or  minister’s  decision.  See  FOI  Fact  Sheet  12  
Freedom  of  information  –  Your  review  rights 
Any  person  can  make  a  complaint  about  the 
for more information about the review process.
actions of an agency in relation to an FOI activity. 
You do not need to have requested documents 
If you are concerned about the way an agency 
under the FOI Act. 
has handled your matter, you can complain to 
When should I make a complaint?
the Information Commissioner.
You  can  complain  to  the  Information 
What  are  the  powers  of  the  Information 
Commissioner  at  any  time.  If  your  complaint 
Commissioner?
relates  to  an  FOI  request  you  can  make  the 
The Information Commissioner can investigate 
complaint at any stage of the process. 
a  complaint  about  how  an  agency  handled 
an  FOI  request,  or  other  actions  the  agency 
Before  making  a  complaint  to  the  Information 
took  under  the  FOI  Act.  The  Information 
Commissioner,  you  should  contact  the  agency 
Commissioner  cannot  investigate  a  complaint 
directly  to  try  to  resolve  your  concerns.  The 
about a minister.
Information  Commissioner  may  decide  not  to 
investigate your complaint if you have not raised 
In conducting the investigation the Information 
your concerns first with the agency or you have 
Commissioner has the power to:
not given the agency a reasonable opportunity 
to deal with your complaint. 
•  make inquiries of an agency 
•  obtain information from any person
•  take  possession  of,  or  inspect,  any  relevant 
documents.
FOI Fact Sheet 13 – How to make a complaint
1


How do I make a complaint?
Can  the  Information  Commissioner  decide 
not to investigate my complaint?
Your  complaint  must  be  in  writing  and  must 
specify the agency you are complaining about. 
Yes. The Information Commissioner may decide 
You  can  send  your  complaint  to  us  using 
not  to  investigate,  or  may  discontinue  an 
the  details  at  the  end  of  this  fact  sheet.  A 
investigation, if:
complaint form is also available on our website  
at www.oaic.gov.au.
•  your complaint does not concern an agency’s 
action under the FOI Act
If  you  need  help  we  can  assist  you.  You  can 
contact  us  on  1300  363  992  or  by  email  
•  it  is  more  appropriate  for  you  to  complain 
to [email address].
to another body (such as the agency or the 
Commonwealth Ombudsman)
What  information  do  I  need  to  put  in  the 
complaint?
•  it is more appropriate for you to ask for the 
decision to be reviewed
To  help  the  Information  Commissioner  give 
the  best  consideration  to  your  complaint, 
•  the agency you complained about has dealt 
please  provide  as  much  relevant  information 
with your complaint, or is in the process of 
as  possible.  Be  clear  about  the  issues  in  your 
dealing with it
complaint  and  what  action  or  outcome  you 
•  your  complaint  is  frivolous,  lacking  in 
would like to see as a result.
substance or not made in good faith
Is there a fee for making a complaint?
•  you  do  not  have  sufficient  interest  in  the 
No.  There  are  no  costs  involved  in  making  a 
matter.
complaint to the Information Commissioner. 
If the Information Commissioner decides not to 
What will happen to my complaint?
investigate or discontinues an investigation, the 
Commissioner will notify you and the agency of 
An officer of the Information Commissioner will 
the reasons for this in writing.  
contact you to discuss your complaint and you 
will  be  kept  informed  of  the  progress  of  your 
How will my complaint be resolved?
complaint along the way.
In some cases the Information Commissioner’s 
Before  deciding  whether  to  investigate  your 
investigation  and  intervention  may  result 
complaint  the  Information  Commissioner  may 
in  the  agency  addressing  the  issues  that 
make  preliminary  inquiries  of  the  agency  you 
you  have  complained  about.  In  other  cases 
have complained about. 
the  Information  Commissioner  may  make 
suggestions  or  recommendations  that  the 
If  the  Information  Commissioner  decides  to 
agency should implement. You and the agency 
investigate  your  complaint,  the  Commissioner 
will be notified in writing of the outcome of the 
will write to the agency and request information 
investigation. 
to assist with the investigation. 
FOI Fact Sheet 13 – How to make a complaint
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If  an   agency  fails  to  take  adequate 
The Information Commissioner can also transfer 
and  appropriate  action  to  implement  
to  the  Ombudsman  a  complaint  that  could 
any 
recommendations,  the 
Information 
more  appropriately  be  investigated  by  the 
Commissioner 
may 
issue 

formal 
Ombudsman.  This  could  occur  where  the  FOI 
implementation  notice.  This  notice  requires 
complaint is only one part of a wider grievance 
the  agency  to  explain  what  action  it  will  take 
about an agency’s actions. It is unlikely that this 
to  implement  the  recommendations.  The 
will be common. You will be notified in writing if 
Information  Commissioner  may  also  provide  a 
your complaint is transferred.
written  report  to  the  minister  responsible  for 
the  agency,  and  the  report  will  be  tabled  in 
The information provided in this fact sheet is of a general 
Parliament. 
nature. It is not a substitute for legal advice.
Your  name  will  not  be  included  in  the  report 
unless  there  is  a  special  reason  and  you  were 
For further information
first consulted.
telephone: 1300 363 992
Investigation by the Ombudsman
email: [email address]
write: GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601
The  Commonwealth  Ombudsman  can  also 
or visit our website at
investigate  complaints  about  action  taken  by 
www.oaic.gov.au
agencies under the FOI Act. However, if the issue 
complained about either could be or has been 
investigated by the Information Commissioner, 
the  Ombudsman  will  consult  the  Information 
Commissioner to avoid the same matter being 
investigated twice. If the Ombudsman decides 
not  to  investigate,  the  complaint  and  all 
relevant documents must be transferred to the 
Information Commissioner.
FOI Fact Sheet 13 – How to make a complaint
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