21 November 2022
BY EMAIL: email@example.com
In reply please quote:
FOI Request: FA 22/10/00496
Freedom of Information (FOI) request – Access Decision
On 10 October 2022, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) received a request for
access to a document under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the FOI Act).
The purpose of this letter is to provide you with a decision on your request for access under the
Scope of request
You have requested access to the following document:
I am seeking the latest issue of the following document:
* Gender and Sexual Orientation - Procedural Instruction, VM-5345
Authority to make decision
I am an officer authorised under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of
requests to access documents or to amend or annotate records.
In reaching my decision I referred to the following:
the terms of your request
the document relevant to the request
the FOI Act
Guidelines published by the Office of the Information Commissioner under section
93A of the FOI Act (the FOI Guidelines)
advice from Departmental officers with responsibility for matters relating to the
document to which you sought access
PO Box 25 Belconnen ACT 2616 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.homeaffairs.gov.au
Document in scope of request
The Department has identified one document as falling within the scope of your request. This
document was in the possession of the Department on 10 October 2022 when your request was
The decision in relation to the document in the possession of the Department which fall within
the scope of your request is as follows:
Release one document in part with deletions
Reasons for Decision
Detailed reasons for my decision are set out below.
My findings of fact and reasons for deciding that the exemption provision applies to that
information are set out below.
6.1 Section 47E of the FOI Act – Operations of Agencies
Section 47E(d) of the FOI Act provides that documents are conditionally exempt if disclosure
would, or could reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and
efficient conduct of the operations of an agency.
I consider that the disclosure of parts of the document marked ‘s47E(d)
’ would, or could
reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct
of the operations of the Department.
Managing the security and integrity of Australia's borders is integral to the operations of the
Department. Any prejudice to the effectiveness of the operational methods and procedures used
in undertaking that role would result in a substantial adverse effect on the operations of the
Any disclosure resulting in the prejudice of the effectiveness of the Department’s operational
methods and procedures would result in the need for this Department, and potentially its law
enforcement partners, to change those methods and/or procedures to avoid jeopardising their
Some of the information contained in the document for release marked 47E(d) contains guidance
for Case Officers assessing Protection Visa claims based on claimed persecution based on
gender and sexual orientation. I am satisfied that if this information were released it could reveal
the techniques used by Officers to plan and conduct Protection Visa interviews, and/or test the
integrity of the applicant’s claims of persecution. For this reason, I am satisfied that releasing this
information to you could reasonably be expected to be shared amongst those seeking protection,
resulting in the possibility of some applicant’s presenting bogus claims for protection. I am
satisfied that if this were to occur, it would circumvent the Department’s ability to assess claims
for protection on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, leading to disruption of the
Departments Refugee and Humanitarian program, which would be a substantial adverse effect
on the proper and efficient conduct of the Department.
Some information marked 's47E(d)' consists of operational email addresses used by this
Department. These email addresses are not otherwise publicly available, and disclosure of this
information could reasonably be expected to result in potential vexatious communication and
public inquiries which these operational areas are not resourced to manage. The Department
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has established channels of communication for members of the public into the Department, and
I consider there is no public interest in disclosing these operational contact details. Given the
operational focus of those business areas, such a diversion of the resources of that business
area could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and
efficient conduct of the operations of this Department and its partner agencies.
I have decided that parts of the documents are conditionally exempt under section 47E(d) of the
FOI Act. Access to a conditionally exempt document must general y be given unless it would be
contrary to the public interest to do so. I have turned my mind to whether disclosure of the
information would be contrary to the public interest, and have included my reasoning in that
regard at paragraph 1.1 above.
6.2 The public interest – section 11A of the FOI Act
As I have decided that parts of the document are conditionally exempt, I am now required to
consider whether access to the conditional y exempt information would be contrary to the public
interest (section 11A of the FOI Act).
A part of a document which is conditionally exempt must also meet the public interest test in
section 11A(5) before an exemption may be claimed in respect of that part.
In summary, the test is whether access to the conditionally exempt part of the document would
be, on balance, contrary to the public interest.
In applying this test, I have noted the objects of the FOI Act and the importance of the other
factors listed in section 11B(3) of the FOI Act, being whether access to the document would do
any of the following:
(a) promote the objects of this Act (including all the matters set out in sections 3 and
(b) inform debate on a matter of public importance
(c) promote effective oversight of public expenditure
(d) allow a person to access his or her own personal information.
Having regard to the above I am satisfied that:
Access to the document would promote the objects of the FOI Act.
The subject matter of the document does not seem to have a general characteristic
of public importance. The matter has a limited scope and, in my view, would be of
interest to a very narrow section of the public.
No insights into public expenditure wil be provided through examination of the
You do not require access to the document in order to access your own personal
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I have also considered the following factors that weigh against the release of the conditionally
exempt information in the document:
Disclosure of the parts of the documents that are conditional y exempt under section
47E(d) of the FOI Act could reasonably be expected to prejudice law enforcement
functions and, as a result, the ability of the Department to protect Australia's borders.
I consider there to be a strong public interest in ensuring that the ability of the
Department to conduct its law enforcement functions is not compromised or
prejudiced in any way. I consider that this would be contrary to the public interest and
that this factor weighs strongly against disclosure.
Disclosure of the operational email addresses which are conditionally exempt under
section 47E(d) of the FOI Act would have a substantial adverse effect on the ability
of the relevant operational areas to conduct their business as usual. The Department
has established avenues in place for members of the public to contact when they
have queries, complaints or comments. I consider that there is a strong public interest
in ensuring public feedback is filtered through these available channels so that
operational areas within the Department are able to carry out their functions in an
effective matter. I consider that this would be contrary to the public interest and that
this factor weighs strongly against disclosure of the exempt information.
I have also had regard to section 11B(4) which sets out the factors which are irrelevant to my
decision, which are:
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.
I have not taken into account any of those factors in this decision.
Upon balancing all of the above relevant public interest considerations, I have concluded that the
disclosure of the conditionally exempt information in the documents would be contrary to the
public interest and it is therefore exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act.
A copy of the FOI Act is available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A02562. If you
are unable to access the legislation through this website, please contact our office for a copy.
Final decision on charge
On 9 November 2022 the Department issued you with a notice of the preliminary charge in the
amount of $41.00
to process your request, which includes the first five hours of decision-making
at no cost.
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Amount already paid
On 9 November 2022, the Department received your payment of $41.00
- the total
charge indicated in the preliminary charges notice issued by the Department.
As you have paid the full amount required, the Department is now releasing the document to
you. If you are dissatisfied with my decision to impose charges, your review rights are set out
in the paragraph titled “Your Review Rights” below.
Your Review Rights
Review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
You may apply directly to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for a
review of this decision. You must apply in writing within 60 days of this notice. For information
about review rights and how to submit a request for a review to the OAIC, see:
10 Making a Complaint
You may complain to the Australian Information Commissioner about action taken by the
Department in relation to your request.
Your enquiries to the Australian Information Commissioner can be directed to:
Phone 1300 363 992 (local call charge)
There is no particular form required to make a complaint to the Australian Information
Commissioner. The request should be in writing and should set out the grounds on which it is
considered that the action taken in relation to the request should be investigated and identify the
Department of Home Affairs as the relevant agency.
11 Contacting the FOI Section
Should you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI Section at
[signed electronical y]
Position number - 00003354
Authorised decision maker
Department of Home Affairs
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