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Annual Report - Appendix 6: Freedom of Information
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Appendix 6 – Freedom of Information


Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) requires a Commonwealth agency to publish, in an annual report, information about:
  • its functions;
  • its decision-making powers that affect the public;
  • arrangements for public participation in the formulation of policy;
  • the categories of documents that are held by the agency; and
  • how these documents can be accessed by the public.

Particulars of the Department

Information about the structure of the Department can be found in Part 1- Departmental Overview of this report, while organisational functions are explained in Part 1- Outcome Performance Reports.

Decision-making Powers

In 2005-06, Ministers and/or departmental officers exercised decision-making powers under the following Acts, or parts of Acts, which were administered by the Department:
  • Aged or Disabled Persons Care Act 1954;
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Act 2006;
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Levy Act 2006;
  • Aged Care Act 1997;
  • Aged Care (Consequential Provisions) Act 1997;
  • Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Account Act 2001;
  • Australian Hearing Services Act 1991;
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987;
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987, Part VIIA;
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998;
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (Licence Charges) Act 1998;
  • Cancer Australia Act 2006;
  • Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961;
  • Delivered Meals Subsidy Act 1970;
  • Epidemiological Studies (Confidentiality) Act 1981;
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991;
  • Gene Technology Act 2000;
  • Gene Technology (Licence Charges) Act 2000;
  • Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act 1995;
  • Health and Other Services (Compensation) Care Charges Act 1995;
  • Health Care (Appropriation) Act 1998;
  • Health Insurance Act 1973;
  • Health Insurance Commission (Reform and Separation of Functions) Act 1997;
  • Health Insurance (Pathology) (Fees) Act 1991;
  • Hearing Services Administration Act 1997;
  • Hearing Services AGHS Reform Act 1997;
  • Home and Community Care Act 1985;
  • Home Nursing Subsidy Act 1956;
  • Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989;
  • Industrial Chemicals (Registration Charge - Customs) Act 1997;
  • Industrial Chemicals (Registration Charge - Excise) Act 1997;
  • Industrial Chemicals (Registration Charge - General) Act 1997;
  • Medical Indemnity Act 2002;
  • Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act 2003;
  • Medical Indemnity (Competitive Advantage Payment) Act 2005;
  • Medical Indemnity (Run-off Cover Support Payment) Act 2004;
  • Medical Indemnity (UMP Support Payment) Act 2002;
  • Medical Indemnity Agreement (Financial Assistance – Binding Commonwealth Obligations) Act 2002;
  • Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, Sections 9, 10, 11, 13, 19 and 23 and Subsection 24(1), and so much of the remaining provisions of the Act (other than sections 12 and 22 and Subsection 24(2)) as relates to powers and functions under those Sections;
  • National Blood Authority Act 2003;
  • National Health Act 1953;
  • National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992;
  • Nursing Home Charge (Imposition) Act 1994;
  • Nursing Homes Assistance Act 1974;
  • Private Health Insurance (ACAC Review Levy) Act 2003;
  • Private Health Insurance (Collapsed Organization Levy) Act 2003;
  • Private Health Insurance Complaints Levy Act 1995;
  • Private Health Insurance (Council Administration Levy) Act 2003;
  • Private Health Insurance Incentives Act 1998;
  • Private Health Insurance (Reinsurance Trust Fund Levy) Act 2003;
  • Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002;
  • Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002;
  • Quarantine Act 1908, in relation to human quarantine;
  • Quarantine (Validation of Fees) Act 1985, in relation to human quarantine;
  • States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969;
  • States Grants (Nurse Education Transfer Assistance) Act 1985;
  • States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act 1969;
  • Therapeutic Goods Act 1989;
  • Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Act 1989;
  • Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992; and
  • World Health Organization Act 1947
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Portfolio Agencies that Produce an Annual Report

The following prescribed authorities (as defined by the FOI Act) in the Health and Ageing portfolio are separate agencies for the purpose of the FOI Act. They publish their own annual report and are therefore not covered by this statement:
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand;
  • Aged Care Commissioner for Complaints;
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare;
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency;
  • National Blood Authority;
  • National Health and Medical Research Council;
  • National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme;
  • Private Health Insurance Administration Council;
  • Private Health Insurance Ombudsman; and
  • Professional Services Review.
Contact details for agencies not covered by this Statement can be found in the Section 8 Statement contained in each agency’s annual report.

Portfolio Authorities Covered by the Department’s Annual Report

In 2005-06, the Therapeutic Goods Administration was a division of the Department, and its documents were considered to be documents of the Department.

For the purposes of the administration of the FOI Act, the Department was responsible in 2005-06 for processing requests for access to documents of the following prescribed authorities (as defined by the FOI Act):
  • Acute Care Advisory Committee;
  • Aged Care Planning Advisory Committees;
  • Australian Community Pharmacy Authority;
  • Australian Drug Evaluation Committee;
  • Complementary Medicines Evaluation Committee;
  • Gene Technology Regulator;
  • Gene Technology Community Consultative Committee;
  • Gene Technology Ethics Committee;
  • Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee;
  • Hearing Services Consultative Committee;
  • Medical Device Evaluation Committee;
  • Medicines Evaluation Committee;
  • National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee;
  • National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council;
  • Pathology Services Table Committee;
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee;
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Remuneration Tribunal;
  • Therapeutic Goods Advertising Codes Council;
  • Therapeutic Goods Committee; and
  • Therapeutic Goods Complaints Resolution Panel.

Arrangements for Outside Participation in the Formulation of Policy

The Department welcomes views and comments from members of the public and bodies outside the Commonwealth on its policy formulation and administration of portfolio legislation. Public consultation, consumer and stakeholder participation is widely encouraged at varying levels, across all fields of policy and output delivery. Formal arrangements for outside participation include cross-portfolio bodies and bodies specific to outcome classes. Further information regarding formal arrangements can be obtained from the Australian Government Directory Accessible and from the Department’s internet site.

Categories of Documents

The Department maintains records in various forms and locations relating to the functions of the Health and Ageing portfolio. Records are retained for varying periods, depending on their administrative and historical value, and are disposed of in accordance with standards and practices approved by the National Archives of Australia. The following categories of documents are common throughout the Department and its portfolio agencies (unless specified otherwise):
  • briefing papers and minutes prepared for the Ministers, the Parliamentary Secretary and senior departmental officers;
  • Cabinet documents, including Cabinet submissions/memoranda and documents submitted to Cabinet;
  • documents prepared for the Executive Council;
  • documents relating to the development of, and explanatory memoranda to Acts, Regulations and other legislative instruments;
  • internal administration documents relating to staff management and the organisation and operation of the Department, including personnel records, organisational and staffing records, financial and resource management records, audit records and internal operating procedures, Requests for Tender, instructions and indexes;
  • instruments of appointment;
  • ministerial and departmental responses to correspondence and parliamentary questions;
  • inter-departmental and general correspondence and papers;
  • policy documents, including the development and implementation of government and departmental policy, recommendations and decisions;
  • working papers covering functions and issues handled by the Department, including program, fund and grant administration and planning documents;
  • documents relating to complaints about Commonwealth-funded services;
  • agreements, memoranda of understanding and contracts between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and other bodies and organisations;
  • legal documents, including legislation, contracts, leases, instruments of delegation, legal advices and court documents;
  • requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and files and papers relevant to the consideration of those requests;
  • standard operating procedures and fact sheets;
  • separate records of internal departmental management meetings and teleconferences, such as agendas and minutes;
  • correspondence with non-government parties (stakeholders);
  • records of meetings and teleconferences with external stakeholders, including agendas and minutes;
  • financial reports, expenditure estimates and expenditure reports;
  • maps, charts, photographs, technical drawings, specifications and technical manuals;
  • statistics and databases;
  • documents prepared by international agencies;
  • reports prepared by other government agencies and consultants;
  • international agreements, Memoranda of Understanding and treaties;
  • documents submitted by third parties;
  • departmental publications and occasional papers;
  • training materials;
  • media releases;
  • committee records; and
  • mailing lists.
A large number of departmental publications are available free of charge to the public. A list of these publications can be accessed via the Department’s internet site.

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Authorised FOI Decision-makers

The authority to provide access to documents is held widely throughout the Department primarily at section-head level (Executive Level 2) and above. Occupants of positions classified as Band 1 or higher in the Senior Executive Service are authorised to provide and refuse access to documents under the FOI Act. Authority to make other decisions, such as imposing and remitting charges, has also been given to appropriate officers.

Facilities for Access

Facilities for inspecting documents to which access is given under the FOI Act are provided by the Department in each state and territory capital city and in Central Office.

Departmental Manuals

In accordance with Section 9 of the FOI Act, a list has been compiled of unpublished manuals and other documents provided by the Department to officers to assist in making decisions or recommendations that affect the public. The list, as at July 2006, is available on request from the FOI Coordinator or any office of the National Archives of Australia.

Freedom of Information Statistics 2005-06

The following prescribed authorities covered by this Statement received requests for access under the FOI Act in 2005-06:

Table 1: Requests for Access

Agency

Matters
On-hand
(Start 2005-06)

Requests Received
(2005-06)

Requests Finalised
(2005-06)

Requests Outstanding
(End 2005-06)

Department of Health and Ageing 32 132 136 28
Australian Community Pharmacy Authority - 2 1 1
Gene Technology Regulator - 1 1 -

Table 2: FOI Internal Review Matters

Agency

Matters
On-hand
(Start 2005-06)

Requests Received
(2005-06)

Requests Finalised
(2005-06)

Decision

Reviews Outstanding
(End 2005-06)

Department of Health and Ageing 1 10 10 2 affirmed original decisions.
5 greater access given.
1 withdrawn.
1 charge reduced.
1 charge not imposed.
28
Gene Technology Regulator
- 1 1
Affirmed original decision. -

Table 3: FOI Administrative Appeals Tribunal Matters

Agency

Matters
On-hand
(Start 2005-06)

Requests
Received
(2005-06)

Requests
Finalised
(2005-06)

Decision

Reviews
Outstanding
(End 2005-06)

Department of Health and Ageing 1 3 2 1 affirmed original decision.
1 greater access given.
2

FOI Procedures and Contact Details

A request for access to documents under the FOI Act must be in writing, enclosing a $30 application fee and an address in Australia to which notices can be sent. In certain circumstances the fee is not required or can be remitted. To enable a prompt response and to help an agency to meet its obligations under the FOI Act, you should provide as much information as possible about the documents you are seeking. It is also advisable to include a telephone number or an electronic mail address to allow departmental officers handling your request to contact you in case clarification is needed. Applicants may be liable to pay charges at rates prescribed by the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations.

Department of Health and Ageing

Inquiries regarding submission of a formal request under the FOI Act should be directed to the Department’s FOI Coordinator or State/Territory Office FOI Contact Officers at:

FOI Coordinator (Central Office) (02) 6289 1666
New South Wales (02) 9263 3926
Victoria (03) 9665 8872
Queensland (07) 3360 2724
South Australia (08) 8237 8025
Western Australia (08) 9346 5456
Tasmania (03) 6221 1506
Northern Territory (08) 8946 3409
Australian Capital Territory (02) 6289 3352

Requests should be sent to the appropriate office of the Department at the following address:
    Department of Health and Ageing
    GPO Box 9848
    CAPITAL CITY

    In accordance with the Electronic Transactions Act 1999, FOI requests may be made by email, addressed to FOI@health.gov.au. However, as a request must be accompanied by an application fee, in most cases no action will be taken on an emailed request until the application fee is received or a request has been made for the remission of the application fee.

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    Produced by the Portfolio Strategies Division, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
    URL: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/annrpt/publishing.nsf/Content/appendix6-freedom-of-information-2
    If you would like to know more or give us your comments contact: annrep@health.gov.au