The request was refused by Department of Defence.
From: Ben Harrison
Dear Department of Defence,
I request any information regarding unidentified flying objects that have been seen by civilians and/or military and commercial pilots.
From: Sansom, Andrea MS
Department of Defence
Dear Mr Harrison
Thank you for your email to the Department of Defence (Defence) submitted
on 30 October 2014, requesting access to the following under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
“any information regarding unidentified flying objects that have been seen
by civilians and/or military and commercial pilots.”
This email is to acknowledge the receipt of your request and to advise you
that the request has not been accepted as valid under the Act. I will set
out the reasons below. Before doing so, I will outline the requirements
for a valid FOI request. In doing so, I hope to assist you to resubmit
your request as one that the agency can accept as valid.
Valid FOI request
Section 15 of the Act provides that a person who wishes to obtain access
to a document of an agency may request access to that document. To be
valid, the request be in writing, state that the request is an application
under the Act and give details of how notices under the Act may be sent to
the applicant (ss15(2)(a), (c) and (d) of the Act). Finally, the request
must ‘provide such information concerning the documents as is reasonably
necessary to enable a responsible officer of the agency, or the Minister,
to identify it’ (s.15(2)(b)). This provision allows an agency to balance
the resources it will need to use to identify and locate documents against
an applicant’s right to request access to the documents.
Application of s15(2)(b) to your request
I note that the scope is expressed very broadly. For example, the phrase
‘any information’ includes all emails, email chains, drafts, different
versions of drafts and duplicates/copies of the documents that might fall
in scope. These documents would range from emails to departmental policies
through to media releases.
I am satisfied that your request does not meet the requirements in
s15(2)(b) of the Act and so is invalid as your request does not provide
sufficient information for Defence to identity the documents that you are
interested in. Please clarify if there are particular documents that you
are interested in.
To assist you in revising the scope of your request some of the following
information may be of some help:
a. Documents dated prior to 31 December 1987 are in the "open access"
period as defined by the Archives Act 1983 and as such must be sought
under the Archives Act not the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Refer to
attached fact sheet 10. A search of the National Archives of Australia
(NAA) website using search parameters of UFO, Unidentified Flying Objects,
and Unusual Aerial Sightings will return a number of files which are
publicly available and many have already been accessed and a digital copy
is available on the website.
b. Since 1996 the Australian Defence Forces no longer accepts reports
on unusual aerial sightings (UAS), persons who wish to report a UAS are
directed to their local police authorities. Further information is
available at the following link:
c. Documents available on the Defence Disclosure Log which may be of
interest to you: 395/13/14 - Publications relating to RAAF 41 Wing
Would you please clarify the details as specified above by 17 November
2014, to enable Defence to begin processing your FOI request. If you do
not contact me by the date mentioned above, or an additional period of
time is not agreed, your request will be withdrawn.
Point of contact details
I can be contacted by telephone on (02) 626 62200 or via email at
[email address]. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you
have any questions in relation to this matter.
Acting Director - Freedom of Information
Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication Division
Department of Defence | CP1-6-012|
PO Box 7910 | CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
Ph: 02 626 63754
Fax: 02 626 62112
email: [email address]