Our ref: FOI 2122-016
24 September 2021
Freedom of Information request FOI 2122-016
The purpose of this letter is to give you a decision about access to documents that you
requested under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the FOI Act).
On 23 August 2021, you sent us an email stating as follows:
“Please proved any documentation such as but not limited to policy's, procedures,
memos, emails that refer to how Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) also known as
Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Chronic Fatigue is evaluated against the
elgablity criteria for the Disablity Support Pension and assists in guidance for
representatives of the department to make a determination of if the condition has
been "fully treated and stablised".
Please also relaese the numbers of people diagnosed with ME/CFS who are on
the DSP for ME/CFS or another condition but also have me/cfs listed.
On 25 August 2021, you sent us a follow up email, confirming that your earlier email of
23 August 2021 was an access request made pursuant to the FOI Act. You also
provided the following clarifications to your earlier request.
“I am looking for any documents in the last 24 months that related to ME/CFS that
are memmos, policys, procedures, emails, adivce sought on how the condition is
assessed for the DSP.
GPO Box 9820 Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone 1300 634 035
National Relay Service: TTY: 133 677, Speak and listen: 1300 555 727, Internet relay: www.relayservice.com.au
On 26 August 2021, we sent you an email, requesting for further details (see below) to
enable us to narrow down the scope of our search, and identify the requested records.
You wrote to us on the same day with the following information (your response is in
• a specific date range for the records requested
“the last 24 months from todays date
Based on the clarification provided we have taken the period to be between 26
August 2019 and 26 August 2021.
• are the records personal to you or are they of a general nature
“the records requested are general in nature and not to be of any persons
• what the acronyms referred to mean
“Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Disablity Support Pension (DSP)
Chronic Fatigue (CF)
On 1 September 2021, the department acknowledged your request.
As the department officially accepted your access request under the FOI Act on 25
August 2021, a decision in relation to your request has been fixed to be due by 25
I am an officer authorised under subsection 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in
relation to freedom of information requests made to the Department of Social Services
Before making my decision in relation to your FOI request, I took all reasonable steps to
locate the documents to which you seek access. This included making inquiries of staff
likely to be able to identify relevant documents and arranging for comprehensive
searches of relevant departmental electronic and hard copy holdings.
My decision and the reasons for that decision are set out below.
In making my decision, I have taken the following material into account:
• the terms of your request;
• consultations with departmental officers within the Carer and Disability Payments
Branch as to the information held by the department and searches for documents
undertaken by them;
• the provisions of the FOI Act; and
• the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under
section 93A of the FOI Act.
I have identified a one-page document which falls within the scope of your request.
I have decided to grant access in full to this document.
In relation to your access request that reads, “any documentation such as but not
limited to policy's, procedures, memos, emails that refer to how Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis (ME) also known as Chronic fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Chronic
Fatigue is evaluated against the elgablity criteria for the Disablity Support Pension
I have identified that the department does not hold any documents within the scope of
On the basis that the documents to which you have requested access do not exist,
I have decided to refuse access pursuant to section 24A of the FOI Act. Relevantly,
section 24A of the FOI Act 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
(a) all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document;
(b) the agency
or Minister is satisfied that the document:
(ii) does not exist.
Your review rights under the FOI Act are set out in the attachment to this letter.
If you wish to discuss this decision, the FOI case officer for this matter is Claire, who
can be reached at email@example.com.
Freedom of Information
Government and Executive Services Branch
24 September 2021