Freedom of Information request

How to make a Freedom of Information request

Last updated: December 2015

1. Acknowledgement

This webpage has been adapted from a similar document published on the website of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, accessed on 26 November 2015, and has been modified. ACARA acknowledges the Department of Education and Training as the source of this document.

2. Introduction

The object of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) is to give the Australian community access to information held by the Commonwealth.

The FOI Act aims to achieve this objective by:

  • requiring agencies to publish certain information on a website; and
  • providing for a right of access to documents.

3. Right of access under the FOI Act

The FOI Act gives any person the right to:

  • access copies of documents (except exempt and conditionally 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  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading; or
  • seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.

We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents, that are exempt or conditionally exempt.

4. How to make a Freedom of Information application

Applications for access to documents must:

  • be in writing
  • state that the application is made under the FOI Act
  • provide enough information concerning the documents sought as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of ACARA to identify them; and
  • give details of how notices may be sent to the Applicant (for example, a postal or email address).

Applications to ACARA may be sent to ACARA in one of the following ways:

5. Charges

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:

Activity item


Activity 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


6. What happens after your application is submitted?

  • An FOI officer at ACARA will deal with your application in accordance with the requirements under the FOI Act.
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your FOI request.
  • If you are liable to pay a processing charge we will send you an assessment of the charge as soon as practicable.
  • 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.

7. If you disagree with our decision

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:

  • decisions where we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or we defer giving you access
  • decisions where we impose a charge; and
  • decisions where we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.

A third party that disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.

8. Internal review

You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another ACARA FOI decision-maker. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request.

9. 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 Australian 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.

10. Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman who handles complaints about the processing of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

11. More information

If you require more information, please contact a member of the FOI Team by Submitting an online enquiry (choose “Freedom of information” as the type of enquiry)". Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log.