Freedom of information (FOI)

You have the right to access documents we hold under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). This page explains how to make an FOI request and how we process FOI requests. It also includes a link to our disclosure log.

Our FOI disclosure log lists the documents provided in response to FOI requests.
View the disclosure log

What is FOI?

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act):

  • gives everyone the right to access copies of documents held by Australian Government agencies and ministers’ offices, unless specific exclusions or exemptions apply
  • requires Australian Government agencies to make FOI decisions within statutory timeframes
  • requires Australian Government agencies to publish an FOI disclosure log of certain released documents 
  • requires Australian Government agencies to publish a broad range of information under the Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

How to make an FOI request

To request access to documents, please download, complete and submit our FOI application form.

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 an email or postal address where we can contact you.

It is helpful if you tell us:

  • the specific type of documents you are seeking (for example, emails, reports, data, evaluations or proposals)
  • the subject of or a description of the documents you wish to access
  • the date range of interest. 

If we have any questions about the scope of your request, we will contact you by email or phone to clarify your request. 

If you need help making an FOI request, please contact us.

Requests for personal medical information

Personal health records are generally held by your health professional, or by a hospital.

You can request public hospital records directly from the healthcare professional or hospital in 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.

FOI charges

You may be charged a processing fee for non-personal information access requests. The Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 2019 set the charges at the following amounts.

FOI fees

Activity item Charge

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

If we apply a charge, we will provide you with a preliminary charge notice (an estimate) based on our initial assessment of the work required to process your request. If the amount is over $100, we will ask that you pay a deposit. The charge notice will be updated, and may be amended, once work on your FOI request is completed.

Once you have reviewed the preliminary charge notice, you can choose whether you wish to: 

  • pay the charge or deposit to proceed with the request
  • contest the way the charge was calculated
  • ask that the charge be withdrawn or not imposed; reasons we would not impose a charge might include financial hardship or if access to the documents would be in the interest of a substantial section of the public
  • withdraw the FOI request. 

If you have questions or need help with a charge notice, please contact us.

How we process FOI requests

We will confirm if we have received your FOI request within 14 days.

We will make a decision on your FOI request within 30 days unless that time has been extended by a provision within the FOI Act. The decision letter will explain the reasons for the FOI decision.

We will ask you to provide evidence of your identity if you are seeking to access or amend personal information, including information about yourself. We will also ask you to provide evidence of an authority to act if you are seeking to access another party’s personal or business information.

Sometimes, for complex or large requests, we may request an extension of time from you or the Australian Information Commissioner to process your request. We will always work to finalise your request as soon as possible within any extended statutory period. 

If we need to consult an external third party about documents in the scope of your request, the statutory time frame will automatically be extended by 30 days. If this occurs, we will notify you in writing and advise you of the new statutory due date.

Please see our FOI Operations manual for further information about how we will process your FOI request.

Reviews and complaints

If you disagree with an FOI decision we make, you can:

  • request an internal review
  • ask the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to review the decision.

Requests for internal review must be made in writing to the department within 30 days of the date of the original FOI decision. Information about how to apply for an internal review will be included in your FOI decision letter. 

Internal reviews are conducted by a different FOI Decision Maker, usually a senior officer, in our department. We will make the new decision within 30 days of receiving your internal review request.

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review the original FOI decision or an internal review decision within 60 days of the date of decision. The OAIC has more information about how to apply for external reviews.

If you are unhappy with the way that we have processed your FOI request, you can make a complaint to the OAIC.  

FOI disclosure log

Our disclosure log lists the documents provided in response to FOI requests for the past 5 years. You can view our older FOI disclosures in the Australian Government web archive in Trove. If you wish to access any documents on Trove, please contact us quoting the FOI reference number.

Under the FOI Act, we are not required to publish the following documents or information in the disclosure log:

  • personal information about anyone, if releasing the information would be unreasonable
  • information about a person’s business, commercial, financial or professional affairs, if releasing the information would be unreasonable
  • 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.

We update our disclosure log within 10 days of release of eligible documents. 

View the disclosure log

Contact

Departmental freedom of information (FOI) enquiries

Contact us to find out more about freedom of information (FOI) within the department, or to make an FOI request.
Postal addresses:

Freedom of Information Coordinator
FOI Unit, Department of Health and Aged Care
GPO Box 9848
CANBERRA ACT 2601
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Date last updated:

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