Freedom of information
Under freedom of information (FOI) you have a right, with limited exceptions, to access documents held by us. An FOI request can take up to 30 days to process.
Christmas and New Year arrangements for FOI and Information Release
The FOI and Information Release Branch will be closed from 24 December 2013 until 1 January 2014 (inclusive). Applications lodged during that period will not be considered until we re-open on 2 January 2014. If you wish to make an application or request it would be appreciated if you could lodge it on or after 2 January 2014.
Documents available outside the FOI Act
To request Medicare or PBS information for an individual or a family, including end of financial year tax statements, complete the Request for Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) claims information for individuals and families form.
You can get certain information, including personal information we hold about you immediately through your online account:
You can access the statistical information and data page for more publicly available information.
There are also options to seek high level statistical data outside of FOI. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and guidance on this processes.
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives any person the right to:
- access copies of documents we hold, except exempt documents
- ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading, and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 ask to see any document that we hold. 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.
How to make an FOI request
Before you start
- Before you start your request you should check if the information is available through statistical information and data
- Data requests are assessed on an individual basis and a fee may apply;
- There may be requirements to seek clearance from other sources including other government departments
Submit your request
You can submit your request by post, email or at one of our 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 documents to assist us to process your request
- provide an address for reply
If you ask a third party to make an FOI request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written authority to send copies of documents to you care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you.
Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support programs:
Department of Human Services
PO Box 7820
Canberra BC ACT 2610
Australian Hearing Hub
Level 5 , 16 University Avenue
Macquarie University NSW 2109
Australian Hearing FOI online request form
Department of Human Services
PO Box 7820
Canberra BC ACT 2610
Fees and 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:
|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 5 hours is nil
Subsequent hours are $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.
What you can expect from us
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
- impose a charge
- 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. Please send requests for internal reviews to the appropriate agency, FOI contact details as listed above.
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. Read more on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.
If you do not agree 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 website. 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.
Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at:
Additional information about the Freedom of Information, privacy and information policy is available on the:
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website:
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)
- Freedom of information
- Privacy Commissioner
- Information policy