Freedom of information

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  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading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

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.

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

There are no processing charges for requests to access documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

Activity item

Charge

Search and retrieval: time we spend searching for or retrieving a document

$15 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

Photocopying:

$0.10 per page

Copy of Video:

$20 per copy

Copy of CD:

$5 per copy

Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium

$4.40 per page of transcript

Inspection: supervision by an agency officer while you inspect documents or hearings or viewings of an audio or visual recording at our office.

$6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)

Postage: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request

$1.45 / 1 - 50 pages $2.45 / 51 - 100 pages $7.55 / 101 - 200 pages $8.10 / 201 - 400 pages

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 per cent 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
  • 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.

Freedom of information - exempt information

The right to access documents held by government is subject to certain limitations that ensure sensitive information, including personal, secret or national security information, is properly protected.

There are two types of exemptions:

  1. documents which are exempt  
  2. documents which are conditionally exempt and will not be released if their disclosure would be contrary to the public interest.

If your request falls within one of the above categories, we will explain our reasons in the notice of decision we give you. If exempt information can be deleted from part of a document, an edited copy of the document will be provided. If you do not agree with the agency's decision, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by us or the Australian Information Commissioner.

Documents available outside the FOI Act - administrative access

You can get certain information, including personal information we hold about you, without following a formal process under the FOI Act.

Administrative access can operate alongside and replace the need for a formal FOI request. Some types of information that may suit release under administrative access arrangements include:

  • a requester's own personal information held on file
  • non-confidential research or statistical data requested by journalists, researchers or academics
  • general information of the sort which could be publicly disseminated without adversely affecting third parties
  • documents that would be released in full if the request were made under the FOI Act
  • documents relating to an application for the registration of a trade mark made prior to 27 March 2007, which would otherwise have been made available for public inspection under section 217A of the Trade Marks Act 1995.

Limitations on administrative release

Release of information or documents under administrative access arrangements may not be appropriate where:

  • a third party may object to the release of the information or documents, and the request is better handled under the third party consultation procedures of the FOI Act and
  • the request would cost the agency significant resources to fulfil.

We reserve the right: 

  • in certain cases to impose contractual undertakings on parties receiving information on an informal basis
  • to charge according to the FOI fees schedule for access if documents are voluminous or complex.

You should also check the information we have published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already available

How to make a request

Your request must:

  • be in writing
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act (if your FOI request can be processed under administrative access you will be advised in writing and asked if you wish to proceed under administrative access or continue with your FOI request)
  • provide information about the document(s) to assist us to process your request
  • provide an address for reply.

You can make a request by contacting IP Australia FOI Contact Officer

Email: foi@ipaustralia.gov.au 

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.

More information