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Information Sheet
Guideline – Right to Information Act 2009 and Information Privacy Act 2009
Overview of the application process: what to expect 
– a guide for applicants

The purpose of this information sheet is to provide you with an overview of what 
to expect after you have submitted a valid application requesting access to 
documents under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) or the 
Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act).
How long will it take to process my application?
The standard time for an agency1 to process an application is 25 business days
from the date they receive a valid application.  This is referred to as the 
‘processing period’ and does not include weekends or notified public holidays.  
The processing period can be extended in some circumstances. For example, if 
a charges estimate notice is provided, the time taken for you to respond does not 
count as part of the processing period.  In addition, if an agency needs to consult 
with a relevant third party, 10 business days will be added to the processing 
An agency may ask you for an extension of time if they need longer to process 
the application. Reasons why an agency may require further time to process 
your application can vary, but may include situations where the agency has 
located a large number of documents relevant to your request or they are 
ensuring thorough searches have been carried out within all relevant areas of
their agency, including regional offices where appropriate.
By agreeing to or accepting a request from an agency for further time to process 
your application you will still have your rights of review. If you do not specifically 
refuse the request for further time or respond, the agency is allowed to continue 
processing your application.  However, if you do want to refuse the agency’s 
request for further time, you will need to make this clear to the agency.
1 In this information sheet all references to an ‘agency’ include Ministers, unless otherwise specified.
Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

How much will it cost? 
Access charges
There is no charge if you choose to receive the documents in electronic form 
(such as by email or on CD).  If you would rather receive a photocopy of the 
documents, the cost is 25 cents per black and white A4 page. 
Other access charges may apply, for example, the cost of copies of x-rays or for 
recordings to be transcribed.
Processing charges
You may have to pay processing charges for applications made under the RTI 
Act.  There are no processing charges for applications made under the IP Act.
Processing charges include the time taken for the agency to process your 
application, for example, searching for or retrieving the documents and making a 
decision on the application.  Processing charges are calculated on a per 15 
minutes basis (or part thereof) for time spent dealing with your application.  The 
agency cannot charge processing charges for documents which contain your 
personal information. 
Financial hardship
If you are suffering financial hardship and satisfy the requirements under the 
legislation, you can apply for a waiver of processing and access charges.  For 
further information please refer Applying for financial hardship as an individual or 
Applications by non-profit organisations for financial hardship status.
What is a charges estimate notice (CEN)?
This section—CENs and Schedules of Documents—is only relevant if you have 
applied under the RTI Act.
If your application has been made under the RTI Act, the agency will provide you 
with a written estimate of how much the processing of your application is likely to 
cost.  This is called a ‘charges estimate notice’ or CEN. 
The final charges payable upon completion of your application cannot be more
than the amount quoted in the CEN. Any final processing or access charges 
must be paid before you can access any released documents.
If the agency spends less than 5 hours processing the application then there are 
no processing charges; however, you may still have to pay access charges.
Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

Do I need to respond to a CEN?
When you receive the CEN you will have 20 business days to either: 
x agree to the estimated charges
x narrow the scope of your application in order to reduce the estimated
processing and access charges
x withdraw your application; or
x apply for a waiver of the processing and access charges on the grounds 
of financial hardship.
If the agency provides the schedule of documents (see below) with the CEN, it
may assist you to identify the particular documents you wish to access from all of 
the relevant documents located.  This could reduce the scope of your application 
and the estimated charges.
If you narrow or reduce the scope of your application, the agency will provide you 
with a second CEN.  When you receive the second CEN you will have a further 
20 business days to respond and either agree to the estimated charges or 
withdraw the application.  An agency can only issue a maximum of two CENs so 
it is important to ensure that all of the discussion about reducing the scope of the 
application is completed before the second CEN is issued.
If you have agreed to a CEN, you will still be liable to pay the final processing 
charges even if the agency’s decision is to refuse full or part access to the
documents requested.
What is a schedule of documents?
If your application was made under the RTI Act then the agency must give you a
schedule of documents before the end of the processing period. There is no 
requirement for the agency to provide a schedule of documents if your 
application was made under the IP Act.
The schedule of documents sets out the number and types of documents the
agency has located that are relevant to your application. If you wish, you can 
agree not to receive a schedule of documents.
Some agencies provide the schedule of documents with the CEN, however it 
may also be provided at another stage within the processing period.
Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

The agency has told me they need to consult with third parties.  What 
does this mean?

If an agency is considering releasing a document that contains information which 
may reasonably be expected to be of concern to a third party (such as a 
government, agency or person), the agency must take reasonable steps to 
obtain the views of the relevant third party. If an agency needs to consult with a 
third party, 10 business days will be added to the processing period.
Please note that the agency will determine whether the third party consultation 
process is necessary for your application based on the content of the documents 
being considered as part of your application.
Will I get access to the documents? 
You may not get full access to all the documents you have requested.  The RTI 
Act and IP Act set out certain types of information that an agency may decide not 
to release to an applicant, either because Parliament has decided that it is 
exempt information or because releasing it would be contrary to the public 
Public interest balancing test
When making a decision regarding access, the public interest test requires the 
agency to consider and compare all competing public interest factors, including 
factors favouring disclosure and non-disclosure.
The public interest is a complex legal concept, so you do not have to identify 
public interest factors as this is for the agency to determine.
Although there is no requirement for you to provide reasons why you are 
requesting access to the documents, in some cases it may be useful for the 
decision-maker to be aware of why you believe the documents should be 
disclosed so that all relevant public interest factors can be identified and taken 
into account.  For example, a factor favouring disclosure may be that the 
documents assist you to pursue legal action, that the documents contain
personal information of a family member who is now deceased.
For further information, please refer to the OIC Guideline: Public interest 
balancing test.

Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

Exempt information 
There are some types of information that an agency may decide to refuse access 
to as it is exempt information.  The RTI Act2 sets out the types of information 
considered to be exempt information, for example:
x Cabinet information
x Information subject to legal professional privilege
x Information which could endanger a person’s life if released
x National or State security information
Exempt information is information of a particular type which Parliament has 
considered would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest to disclose.
For further information please refer to the OIC Guideline: Exempt information –

Explaining the decision notice and statement of reasons
When the agency has finished processing your application, they will send you a 
letter setting out their decision.  The RTI Act and IP Act require that decision 
notices detail certain information regarding the processing and decision for an 
application, so it may be a lengthy and detailed document.
Generally speaking, if a decision refuses access to a document in full or in part, 
the decision notice must state the reasons for the decision to refuse access and 
set out your rights to seek a review of the decision.
Decisions for access applications under the IP Act may also refer to sections of 
the RTI Act.  This is because the IP Act includes a provision that states that an 
agency may refuse access using the same grounds for refusal under the RTI Act. 
This includes any exempt information and consideration of the public interest 
factors for and against disclosure.
What are my review rights?
The RTI Act and IP Act give you the right to seek review of certain decisions
under the legislation.  An overview of these review rights, including Internal 
Review and External Review are outlined in the OIC information sheet:
Explaining your review rights – a guide for applicants.  
2 See Schedule 3 of the RTI Act
Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

What is a disclosure log?
An agency’s disclosure log is a web page or a document that publishes a list of 
documents that an agency has already released under the RTI Act. There are no 
disclosure logs for applications and documents released under the IP Act.
The reason for disclosure logs is that if one applicant has expressed an interest 
in accessing particular documents then the same documents might be of interest 
to other members of the community.
There are different disclosure log requirements that may apply depending on 
whether you make your application to a department or Minister – or if you make 
your application to another agency, such as your local council and public 
authorities.  For example, a department’s or Minister’s disclosure log will also 
provide certain details about your application once it has been made to that 
department or Minister.
What information about me and my application will be published on 
the disclosure log?

Departments and Ministers must publish certain information on their disclosure 
log – this includes the date of your application and details of the documents you 
are seeking. 
If a department or Minister decides to release documents to you and the 
documents do not contain your personal information, those documents must be
published on their disclosure log along with your name.  
Agencies that are not departments and Ministers (such as councils and public 
authorities) are not required to publish details of the documents you are seeking.
However, they may decide to place certain documents released under the RTI 
Act (that do not contain the applicant’s personal information) on their disclosure 
log along with a summary that briefly explains the nature and context of the 
Agencies and Ministers may be required to delete information from details of the 
application and documents before publishing in a disclosure log, such as 
information that may be defamatory or is protected from disclosure under a 
For further information about disclosure logs it is recommend you discuss this 
with the agency you are applying to.  Alternatively, please refer to the OIC 
Guidelines:  Disclosure logs – departments and Ministers and Disclosure logs –
agencies other than departments and Ministers.

Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines

Other related information
For information about the RTI Act and IP Act or how to lodge a valid access 
application, please refer to How do I apply for government documents?.
For additional information and assistance please refer to the OIC’s 
guidelines, or contact the Enquiries Service on 07 3234 7373 or email
This information sheet is introductory only, and deals with issues in a 
general way.  It is not legal advice.  Additional factors may be relevant 
in specific circumstances.  For detailed guidance, legal advice should 
be sought.
If you have any comments or suggestions on the content of this 
document, please submit them to
Published 9 August 2012 and Last Updated 13 April 2017
Changes to legislation after the update date are not included in this document.
Right to Information and Privacy Guidelines