documents relate to US and Australia agreement resettle persons in offshore detention

Margaret Anderson made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Home Affairs

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Department of Home Affairs.

Margaret Anderson

Dear Department of Immigration and Border Protection,

Wish to understand what information would be available or USA/Australia agreement to resettle persons from Nauru and Manus Island

Yours faithfully,


Good morning Margaret,

Thank you for your email.

For information and an update regarding the resettlement arrangements please see the Minister's webpage here:

The Department has not accepted your request as valid under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). This is because your request is for 'information' and not for a document in the Department's possession at the time of your request. I will outline more fully the reasons for this below.

Access to Documents:
The right to request documents under the FOI Act is outlined in the Guidelines published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC):

Section 11(1) of the FOI Act gives every person a legally enforceable right to obtain access to a document of an agency or an official document of a minister, unless the document is exempt. [para 2.1]

The right of access enshrined in the FOI Act applies to ‘documents’. This term is defined in s 4(1) to include maps, photographs, and any article from which sounds, images or writing are capable of being reproduced (for example, emails). There is no general obligation on agencies to reduce information to written documentary form in order to facilitate an FOI request, except in relation to information that is stored on a computer tape or disk (s 17). [para 1.26]

The right of access is to existing documents, rather than to information. The FOI Act does not require an agency or minister to create a new document in response to a request for access, except in limited circumstances where the applicant seeks access in a different format (see Part 8 of these Guidelines) or where the information is stored in an agency computer system rather than in discrete form.

The right of access applies to documents that exist at the time the FOI request was made. [para 3.8]

Therefore, any general request for 'information' or 'data' that does not already exist in a document held by the Department is considered an invalid request.

The full Guidelines can be accessed on the OAIC's website at:

kind regards
FOI Officer
Freedom of Information Section
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
E: [email address]


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