The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives any person the right to:
- access copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold
- ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading, and
- seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.
You can request access to any document that is in the possession of the Department and certain portfolio agencies. We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.
The Department has arrangements in place to assist certain portfolio agencies in processing FOI requests and in complying with the Information Publication Scheme. If you would like to request access to documents that are in the possession of the following agencies, please send your request to the Department's FOI Contact Officer:
- Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme Regulator
- Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
- National Environment Protection Council
- National Environment Protection Council Service Corporation
- Australian Heritage Council
The Department also assists Minister Bourke's Office and Parliamentary Secretary Farrell's Office in complying with disclosure obligations. The Department's Disclosure Log provides details in relation to any documents released by their offices.
Your request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
- provide information about the document(s) to assist us to process your request
- provide an address for reply.
You can use the request form
or you can send your request:
|By post||FOI Contact Officer
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
CANBERRA ACT 2601
If you require assistance with your request, please contact the FOI Contact Officer on (02) 6275 9207 or by email at email@example.com.
There is no application fee for an FOI request.
There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:
|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|
|Photocopy||$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|
If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.
If you disagree with our decision
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights. You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:
- if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
- if we impose a charge
- if we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
A third party who disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.
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 agency. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request.
Information Commissioner review
You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our decision on internal review within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third party). The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website at www.oaic.gov.au .
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available on the OAIC's website at www.oaic.gov.au . The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.
If you require more information, please contact the FOI Contact Officer on (02) 6274 2098 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log page. Details about our Information Publication Scheme can be obtained at our Information Publication Scheme page.
Documents listed below have been released as a result of a Freedom of Information request to the department.
The FOI Contact Officer can be contacted on:
- (02) 6274 2098
Further information on the FOI Act can be found at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.