Access to information under the Freedom of Information Act

Access to information logo from OAIC

We make a range of information available for public access. You can formally request access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) to documents we hold.

Freedom of information requests

Your rights

The 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  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading, and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 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

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, members of the public can seek access to documents and files created and held by the Archives, such as:

  • general correspondence and related records;
  • guides, finding aids and associated administrative histories and contextual narratives; and
  • technical papers and reference materials eg procedure manuals, internal instructions and guidelines, publications, and training materials).

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) you wish to access so that we can process your request;
  • provide an address for reply.

You can send your request in the following ways. By post:

FOI Contact Officer
Executive and Information Services Branch
National Archives of Australia
PO Box 7425
Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610

By email:

If you are making an FOI request on behalf of another person, you need to provide a specific, written authority from that person to send copies of documents to you or to allow you to inspect copies of documents containing information about the other person.

If you require assistance with your request, please contact the FOI Contact Officer on 02 6212 3600 or by email at

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:

Processing of FOI requests

  • 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.

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; and
  • 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.

Internal review

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 from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).


If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can make a complaint to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available from the OAIC. 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.

More information

For more information about making an FOI request, please contact the FOI Contact Officer on 02 6212 3600 or by email at

FOI Delegations

View the National Archives of Australia's Freedom of Information (FOI) Delegations – October 2017 (pdf, 99kB).
These Delegations were authorised by the Director General on Monday 16 October 2017.

Information Publication Scheme

As required by the FOI Act, we have an Information Publication Scheme entry that provides information on our structure, functions, appointments, annual reports, consultation arrangements, FOI officer, information we routinely release following FOI requests and information we routinely provide to Parliament.

FOI disclosure log

Our FOI disclosure log lists information we have released since 1 May 2011 in response to requests made under the FOI Act.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017