COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update – Impact on FOI request
We regret to advise that an increase in FOI requests is affecting our usual processing times. This means we may need extra time to process your requests. We may also need approval from you or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to extend the time to process your requests.
In the meantime, we encourage you to check our website and find out if the information is already there.
Note: We do not have access to all documents created by, received by, or stored by other government entities.
What is FOI?
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act):
- gives everyone the right to access copies of documents (except exempt documents) held by the Australian Government and its agencies
- requires Government agencies to make FOI decisions and provide access to any documents released online in a FOI disclosure log
- requires Government agencies to publish a broad range of information under the Information Publication Scheme (IPS).
How to make an FOI request
Your FOI request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is made under the FOI Act
- provide enough information about the document(s) you wish to access so that we can process your request
- provide a method by which we can reply, for example an email or postal address.
To request access to documents from the Department of Health and Aged Care either:
- download and complete our FOI application form, attach the form to an email or post it to us
- email or post your request, providing enough information for us to identify the information you’re looking for, and a return email or postal address
If you require assistance with your request, please contact us.
Requests for personal medical information
Personal health records are generally held by your health professional, or by a hospital.
Public hospital records can be requested directly from them – please refer to the state or territory where you were treated. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has information on how to request your records from the private health sector.
Search and retrieval: time spent searching for or retrieving a document
$15.00 per hour
Decision making: time spent in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, making deletions or notifying any interim or final decision on the request
First 5 hours: Nil
Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Electronic production: retrieving and collating information stored on a computer or on like equipment
An amount not exceeding the actual cost incurred in producing the copy
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium
$4.40 per page of transcript
Photocopy: a photocopy of a written document
$0.10 per page
Other copies: a copy of a written document other than a photocopy
$4.40 per page
Replay: replaying a sound or film tape
An amount not exceeding the actual cost incurred in replaying
Inspection: supervision by an agency officer of an applicant’s inspection of documents or hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording
$6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery: posting or delivering a copy of a document at the applicant’s request
Cost of postage or delivery
How we process FOI requests
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will give you our decision and the reasons for that decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended.
You may be asked to provide evidence of your identity with your application. If you are seeking documents on behalf of an individual, you will need to provide a letter of authority from them.
Sometimes, for complex requests, we will try to negotiate a longer time with you or the Australian Information Commissioner. If we have to consult with someone else – for example, if you ask for a document that contains information about them – we have a further 30 days to tell you our decision.
Reviews and complaints
If you disagree with our decision about your FOI request, you can:
- request an internal review
- ask the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to review
You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in our Department. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request.
You can also ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or the decision as a result of the internal review within 60 days of the date of decision. More information is available from the OAIC.
FOI disclosure log
Our disclosure log lists the documents provided in response to FOI requests for the current financial year. These are published within 10 days of their release.
You can view our older FOI disclosures in the Australian Government Web Archive.
Under the FOI Act, we do not need to publish the following information in the disclosure log, if publishing that information would be unreasonable:
- personal information about anyone
- information about a person’s business, commercial, financial or professional affairs
- other information that the Australian Information Commissioner has determined should not be disclosed
- information that cannot reasonably or practicably be published because of required deletions to the document.