• the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under s 93A of the FOI
Act (the FOI Guidelines), specifically [3.85]-[3.91]
• searches conducted by relevant OAIC staff
Documents cannot be found or do not exist (s 24A)
I have refused your request under s 24A(1) of the FOI Act on the basis that all reasonable
steps have been taken to find the documents you requested and no documents exist.
Section 24A(1) provides as follows:
Requests may be refused if documents cannot be found, do not exist or have not been
Document lost or non-existent
(1) An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if:
(a) all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and
(b) the agency or Minister is satisfied that the document:
(i) is in the agency’s or Minister’s possession but cannot be found; or
(ii) does not exist.
The FOI Guidelines state at [3.89]:
Agencies and ministers should undertake a reasonable search on a flexible and common sense
interpretation of the terms of the request. What constitutes a reasonable search will depend on
the circumstances of each request and will be influenced by the normal business practices in
the agency’s operating environment or the minister’s office.
At a minimum, an agency or minister should take comprehensive steps to locate documents,
having regard to:
• the subject matter of the documents
• the current and past file management systems and the practice of destruction or removal of
• the record management systems in place
• the individuals within an agency or minister’s office who may be able to assist with the
location of documents, and
• the age of the documents.
In conducting searches for documents relevant to your request, I consulted with the Director
of Corporate Services and the Governance and Procurement Manager, Corporate Services
who identified the relevant content manager folder containing all the documents contained
If you disagree with my decision
You have the right to apply for an internal review of my decision under Part VI of the FOI Act.
An internal review will be conducted, to the extent possible, by an officer of the OAIC who
was not involved in or consulted in the making of my decision. If you wish to apply for an
internal review, you must do so in writing within 30 days. There is no application fee for
If you wish to apply for an internal review, please mark your application for the attention of
the FOI Coordinator and state the grounds on which you consider that my decision should be
You have the right to seek review of this decision by the Information Commissioner and the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
You may apply to the Information Commissioner for a review of my decision (IC review). If
you wish to apply for IC review, you must do so in writing within 60 days. Your application
must provide an address (which can be an email address or fax number) that we can send
notices to, and include a copy of this letter. A request for IC review can be made in relation to
my decision, or an internal review decision.
It is the Information Commissioner’s view that it will usually not be in the interests of the
administration of the FOI Act to conduct an IC review of a decision, or an internal review
decision, made by the agency that the Information Commissioner heads: the OAIC. For this
reason, if you make an application for IC review of my decision, and the Information
Commissioner is satisfied that in the interests of the administration of the FOI Act it is
desirable that my decision be considered by the AAT, the Information Commissioner may
decide not to undertake an IC review.
Section 57A of the FOI Act provides that, before you can apply to the AAT for review of an FOI
decision, you must first have applied for IC review.
Applications for internal review or IC review can be submitted to:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Alternatively, you can submit your application by email to [OAIC request email], or by fax on
02 9284 9666.
Accessing your information
If you would like access to the information that we hold about you, please
contact [email address]. More information is available on the Access our
information page on our website