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10.1 Freedom of Information Act 1982

10.1.1Under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Act 1975, or the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, a person may request the reasons for a decision which adversely affects their interests from an officer who made the decision. A person may also exercise a right under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1982 to access certain information held by the Department.

10.1.2The objectives of the FOI Act are:

  • to make available to the public information about operations of agencies and ensure that rules affecting the public are available for inspection or purchase (refer section 8 and section 9 of the FOI Act)
  • to extend, as far as possible, the right to access information in possession of the Government
  • to limit this access only by exceptions and exemptions for protection of essential public interests, and private and business affairs of persons; and
  • to create a right to amend records containing personal information that is incomplete, incorrect, out of date, or misleading.

10.1.3The Act requires that a request must:

  • be in writing; and
  • provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of the agency to identify it; and
  • specify an address in Australia to which notices under this Act may be sent to the applicant; and
  • be sent by post to the agency, or delivered to an officer of the agency at the address of any central or regional office of the agency specified in a current telephone directory; and
  • be accompanied by the fee payable under the regulations in respect of the request.

10.1.4Departmental procedures require requests under the Act to be forwarded to the FOI Section in National or State Offices for processing as soon as possible after receipt.

10.1.5All requests in writing, seeking access to information that is in documentary form or can be produced in documentary form, should be treated as possible FOI requests, and should be forwarded to the relevant FOI Section. The client is not required to specify that a request is made under the Act.

Note:Access may be refused to some documents. For information regarding exemptions, contact your local FOI section.

Any decision refusing access must be substantiated as the case may be reviewed by the AAT. Further information regarding appeals to the AAT is contained in this manual's Section 9.2.3 Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in Chapter 9 Clients Right of Review.