The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) provides a general right of access to documents held by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (the department) and other Commonwealth agencies.
Information about the documents released by the department under the FOI Act since 1 May 2011 is contained in the department's Disclosure Log.
How to make a request
To make a request under the Act, your request must:
- be in writing
- provide a physical or electronic address to where we can send the decision
- provide enough information for us to identify the documents; and
- state that the request is made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
After you lodge your application, we will acknowledge it within 14 days. We are usually required to give you our decision about your request and the reasons for that decision within 30 days of its receipt.
Where third party consultations are necessary we will be entitled to an additional 30 days in which to process your request.
If for any other reason we are likely to need more than 30 days to complete your request we will contact you to arrange an extension of time in line with the requirements under the FOI Act. The department may also apply to the Australian Information Commissioner to apply for an extension of the processing time where exceptional circumstances would prevent us from processing your request in 30 days. You will be informed in writing if the processing time has been extended.
If we do not meet these 30 day time limits, you can apply to the Australian Information Commissioner to review our decision on the basis that we are deemed to have refused your request.
Why you may be refused access
We may refuse to give you access to documents or parts of documents if they are exempt documents under the FOI Act. Some examples of why a document (or part of a document) may be exempt from release includes (but is not limited to) instances where release would:
- would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information of another person or constitute a breach of confidence
- is prohibited under other legislation
- is subject to legal professional privilege
- is contrary to the public interest, and they are internal working documents
- contains commercially sensitive information.
You will be provided with the reasons for the exemption and your review rights in the notice of decision.
Once a Decision Notice is sent to you, you have 30 days in which to request either an internal review by the department, or 60 days for a review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). Please note that a request for review does not incur any fees or charges.
Fees and charges
The department may decide to impose charges in relation to processing a request. All charges are set by the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (the Regulations). Once a charge has been notified to you, the time for processing a request is suspended until you agree to pay the charges or we agree to vary the charges. If the department decides to impose a charge, you may contend that the charge has been wrongly assessed, or should be reduced or not imposed.
You should note the following information in relation to charges:
- No charge is payable on a document which contains your own personal information (but may be payable if your request extends to documents which contain information other than your personal information)
- If the department exceeds the processing time (processing time is taken to include any extensions of time under the FOI Act) the agency cannot charge for access and any charges collected for that request will be refunded.
- All applicants receive the first 5 hours of decision making time at no charge.
- If charges are imposed and you wish to dispute the charges, you should contact us as soon as possible with reasons why the charges should not be paid.
A decision to impose a charge and notification to you must be made within 30 days of the receipt of your request.
Search and retrieval : time we spend searching for or retrieving a document
$15.00 per hour
Decision making : time we spend in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions
First five hours: Nil
Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium
$4.40 per page of transcript
$0.10 per page
Inspection: supervision by an agency officer of your inspection of documents or hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording at our premises
$6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery : posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request
Cost of postage or delivery
Freedom of Information requests may be sent to:
GPO Box 9839
CANBERRA ACT 2601
For further information about FOI, please contact the FOI Coordinator on (02) 6102 8104.