Statement of reasons issued under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
Decision and reason for decision of Famida (Position Number 62212449), Information
Law Section, Legal Services and Audit Branch, Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Alan Ashmore (Right to Know)
12 November 2020
FOI reference number:
Sent by email
Dear Mr Ashmore
Freedom of Information Request: FOI 38714 Decision
1. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Department
) has undertaken a reasonable search of its
records and, in accordance with section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)
), I have made a decision to create and grant access in full to one (1) document that
meets the scope of your request.
2. The document that I have chosen to grant access in full is set out in Schedule 1
Authority to make decision
3. I, Famida (Position Number, 62212449), Information Access Officer, Information Law
Section, am an officer authorised by the Secretary of the Department to make decisions
about access to documents in the possession of the Department in accordance with section
23(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982
4. On 20 October 2020 you made a request for access to a document in the possession of the
Department. Your request was made in the following terms:
‘… The number of complements and complaints for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 September
5. As no extensions of time have been applied to process your request, a decision on your
request is due by 19 November 2020.
6. I have decided not to impose a charge in relation to this request, in accordance with
Regulation 8 of the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 2019.
Material taken into account
7. In accordance with section 26(1)(a) of the FOI Act, my findings on any material question of
fact, the material on which those findings were based and the reasons for my decision to
grant access to the document fol ow.
8. I have taken the following material into account in making my decision:
• the terms of your request;
• the types of information and documents that are in the Department’s possession;
• consultation with the relevant Departmental business area;
• the content of the document that fal s within the scope of your request;
• the availability of information relevant to your request, insofar as it determines the
practicality and ease in which the Department can create a document under section 17
of the FOI Act;
• Sections 3, 11 and 11A of the FOI Act which give the Australian community a legally
enforceable right to obtain access to information held by the Government of the
Commonwealth. I also considered the following provisions of the FOI Act relevant to
- Section 11B Public interest exemption – factors
- Section 15 Request for Access
- Section 17 Requests involving use of computers etc (e.g. request for the
Department to create a document)
• The Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A
of the FOI Act (FOI Guidelines
9. A full extract of all FOI Act provisions used to make my decision are provided in Schedule 2
Reasons for decision
10. I have decided to grant full access
to the document within the scope of your request, in
accordance with the following provision of the FOI Act:
Creation of a document in response to your FOI request (section 17)
11. I consulted with the Client Engagement and Support Services Division (CESS) in relation to
your request. CESS advised that the information relevant to your request was not held by
the Department in a discrete document form. Rather it comprised of data listed in the
Department’s wider data base.
12. So that you can be provided with access to the information you have requested, I asked CESS
to extract the relevant data and create a document in response to your request. This
document is listed at Schedule 1
. This document was created in accordance with section 17
of the FOI Act.
Access to documents
13. The document released to you in accordance with the FOI Act is enclosed.
Information Publication Scheme
14. The Information Publication Scheme requires the Department to publish information
released in response to individual requests made under the FOI Act, except in specified
15. I am of the view that details of your request should be made available on the Department’s
FOI Disclosure Log. As such, details of your request will be published on the Department’s
FOI Disclosure Log which can be accessed at http://www.dva.gov.au/about-dva/freedom-
information/foi-disclosure-log. Please note that the Department does not publish details of
FOI applicants, it only publishes details of the FOI request and the documents released in
response to the request.
Your rights of review
16. If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for internal review or request the
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC
) review my decision. We
encourage you to seek internal review as a first step as it may provide a more rapid
resolution of your concerns.
17. Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply in writing to the Department for an Internal
Review of my decision. The Internal Review application must be made within 30 days of the
date of this letter. Where possible please attach reasons why you believe review of the
decision is necessary. The internal review will be carried out by another officer within 30
18. You can make your application for Internal Review in one of the fol owing ways:
Legal Services and Audit Branch, Department of Veterans’ Affairs
GPO Box 9998, Canberra ACT 2601
(02) 6289 6337
Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the OAIC to review my decision. An
application for review by OAIC must be made in writing within 60 days of the date of this
letter, and be lodged in one of the fol owing ways:
Director of FOI Dispute Resolution
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
(02) 9284 9666
1300 363 992
More information about your review rights under the FOI Act is available in Fact Sheet 12
published by the OAIC: https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/reviews-and-
If you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the Information Law
Section using the fol owing details:
Information Law, Legal Services and Audit Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
GPO Box 9998, Canberra ACT 2601
(02) 6289 6337
1800 838 372
Famida (Position Number 62212449)
Information Access Officer
Information Law Section
Legal Services and Audit Branch
12 November 2020
Schedule of relevant provisions in the FOI Act
The objects of this Act are to give the Australian community access to information held by
the Government of the Commonwealth or the Government of Norfolk Island, by:
requiring agencies to publish the information; and
providing for a right of access to documents.
The Parliament intends, by these objects, to promote Australia’s representative democracy
by contributing towards the fol owing:
increasing public participation in Government processes, with a view to promoting
better informed decision-making;
increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s
The Parliament also intends, by these objects, to increase recognition that information held
by the Government is to be managed for public purposes, and is a national resource.
The Parliament also intends that functions and powers given by this Act are to be
performed and exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to
information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost.
Right of access
Subject to this Act, every person has a legally enforceable right to obtain access in
accordance with this Act to:
a document of an agency, other than an exempt document; or
an official document of a Minister, other than an exempt document.
Subject to this Act, a person’s right of access is not affected by:
any reasons the person gives for seeking access; or
the agency’s or Minister’s belief as to what are his or her reasons for seeking
11A Access to documents on request
This section applies if:
a request is made by a person, in accordance with subsection 15(2), to an agency or
Minister for access to:
a document of the agency; or
an official document of the Minister; and
any charge that, under the regulations, is required to be paid before access is given
has been paid.
This section applies subject to this Act.
Other provisions of this Act are relevant to decisions about access to documents, for example the fol owing:
section 12 (documents otherwise available);
section 13 (documents in national institutions);
section 15A (personnel records);
section 22 (access to edited copies with exempt or irrelevant matter deleted).
Mandatory access—general rule
The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document in accordance with
this Act, subject to this section.
Exemptions and conditional exemptions
The agency or Minister is not required by this Act to give the person access to the
document at a particular time if, at that time, the document is an exempt document.
Access may be given to an exempt document apart from under this Act, whether or not in response to a request
(see section 3A (objects—information or documents otherwise accessible)).
The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document if it is conditionally
exempt at a particular time unless (in the circumstances) access to the document at that
time would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
Note 1: Division 3 of Part IV provides for when a document is conditional y exempt.
Note 2: A conditional y exempt document is an exempt document if access to the document would, on balance, be
contrary to the public interest (see section 31B (exempt documents for the purposes of Part IV)).
Note 3: Section 11B deals with when it is contrary to the public interest to give a person access to the document.
Despite subsection (5), the agency or Minister is not required to give access to the
document at a particular time if, at that time, the document is both:
a conditional y exempt document; and
an exempt document:
under Division 2 of Part IV (exemptions); or
within the meaning of paragraph (b) or (c) of the definition of exempt
document in subsection 4(1).
11B Public interest exemptions — factors
This section applies for the purposes of working out whether access to a conditionally
exempt document would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest under
This section does not limit subsection 11A(5).
Factors favouring access
Factors favouring access to the document in the public interest include whether access to
the document would do any of the fol owing:
promote the objects of this Act (including al the matters set out in sections 3 and
Inform debate on a matter of public importance;
(c) promote effective oversight of public expenditure;
allow a person to access his or her own personal information.
The following factors must not be taken into account in deciding whether access to the
document would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest:
access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth
Government, or cause a loss of confidence in the Commonwealth Government;
access to the document could result in any person misinterpreting or
misunderstanding the document;
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;
access to the document could result in confusion or unnecessary debate.
In working out whether access to the document would, on balance, be contrary to the
public interest, an agency or Minister must have regard to any guidelines issued by the
Information Commissioner for the purposes of this subsection under section 93A.
Requests for access (as related to the requirements for requests)
Persons may request access
(1) Subject to section 15A, a person who wishes to obtain access to a document of an agency
or an official document of a Minister may request access to the document.
Requirements for request
The request must:
be in writing; and
(aa) state that the request is an application for the purposes of this Act; and
provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to
enable a responsible officer of the agency, or the Minister, to identify it; and
give details of how notices under this Act may be sent to the applicant (for
example, by providing an electronic address to which notices may be sent by
(2A) The request must be sent to the agency or Minister. The request may be sent in any of the
delivery to an officer of the agency, or a member of the staff of the Minister, at the
address of any central or regional office of the agency or Minister specified in a
current telephone directory;
postage by pre-paid post to an address mentioned in paragraph (a);
sending by electronic communication to an electronic address specified by the
agency or Minister.
Requests involving use of computers etc
a request (including a request in relation to which a practical refusal reason exists)
is made in accordance with the requirements of subsection 15(2) to an agency;
It appears from the request that the desire of the applicant is for information that
is not available in discrete form in written documents of the agency; and
it does not appear from the request that the applicant wishes to be provided with
a computer tape or computer disk on which the information is recorded; and
the agency could produce a written document containing the information in
discrete form by:
(i) the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available to the
agency for retrieving or collating stored information; or
(ii) the making of a transcript from a sound recording held in the agency;
the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written
document so produced and containing that information and, for that purpose, this Act
applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession.
An agency is not required to comply with subsection (1) if compliance would substantially and
unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations.
Decisions to be made by authorised persons
Subject to subsection (2), a decision in respect of a request made to an agency may be
made, on behalf of the agency, by the responsible Minister or the principal officer of the
agency or, subject to the regulations, by an officer of the agency acting within the scope of
authority exercisable by him or her in accordance with arrangements approved by the
responsible Minister or the principal officer of the agency.
A decision in respect of a request made to a court, or made to a tribunal, authority or body
that is specified in Schedule 1, may be made on behalf of that court, tribunal, authority or
body by the principal officer of that court, tribunal, authority or body or, subject to the
regulations, by an officer of that court, tribunal, authority or body acting within the scope
of authority exercisable by him or her in accordance with arrangements approved by the
principal officer of that court, tribunal, authority or body.
Reasons and other particulars of decisions to be given
Where, in relation to a request, a decision is made relating to a refusal to grant access to a
document in accordance with the request or deferring provision of access to a document,
the decision-maker shall cause the applicant to be given notice in writing of the decision,
and the notice shal :
state the findings on any material questions of fact, referring to the material on
which those findings were based, and state the reasons for the decision; and
in the case of a decision to refuse to give access to a conditionally exempt
document—include in those reasons the public interest factors taken into account
in making the decision; and
Access must general y be given to a conditional y exempt document unless it would be contrary to the public
interest (see section 11A).
where the decision relates to a document of an agency, state the name and
designation of the person giving the decision; and
give to the applicant appropriate information concerning:
his or her rights with respect to review of the decision;
his or her rights to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner in
relation to the decision; and
the procedure for the exercise of the rights referred to in subparagraphs (i)
and (ii); including (where applicable) particulars of the manner in which an
application for internal review (Part VI) and IC review (Part VII) may be
Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 does not apply to a
decision referred to in subsection (1).
A notice under this section is not required to contain any matter that is of such a nature
that its inclusion in a document of an agency would cause that document to be an exempt
(see section 11A).