Freedom of information

1. Your rights

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  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading, and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 subject to legal professional privilege, documents containing material obtained in confidence, documents containing personal or business information of third parties that it would be unreasonable to disclose (and such disclosure would be contrary to the public interest), and certain other matters that are set out in the FOI Act.

2. Documents available outside the FOI Act

You can get certain information, including personal information we hold about you, without following a formal process under the FOI Act. For example, under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, a bankrupt or his/her agent may, without fee, inspect a copy of the bankrupt’s statement of affairs and obtain a copy or make extracts from the statement.

Creditors of a bankrupt may also inspect, obtain a copy or make extracts from, the bankrupt’s statement of affairs without fee. Other persons may do likewise on payment of the specified fee.

More generally, AFSA has operational responsibility for the national personal Insolvency Index (NPII) and the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR).

  • The NPII contains certain information about persons who are bankrupt; have entered personal insolvency agreements or debt agreements. The NPII also contains information about personal insolvency practitioners such as registered trustees and registered debt agreement administrators. The NPII may be searched on payment of the requisite fee. Find out further information on searching the NPII.
  • The PPSR is a national online register that allows members of the public to register their security interests in personal property for a prescribed fee. The PPSR also contains information regarding personal property that is subject to certain other prescribed interests – for example, personal property that is subject to a notice or order under a proceeds of crime law. The PPSR can be searched on payment of the requisite fee. For further information on registering a security interest or searching the PPSR, see www.ppsr.gov.au.

3. How to make an FOI request

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) to which you seek access to assist us to process your request
  • provide an address for reply.

You can send your request:

By post:

FOI Coordinator
Australian Financial Security Authority
GPO Box 821
CANBERRA ACT 2601

By email:

foi [at] afsa.gov.au

4. Requests made on behalf of another person

If you make an FOI request on behalf of another person (e.g. you may be their legal adviser or agent), you need to provide a specific, written authority from that person acknowledging that you are making the application on their behalf, and agreeing to have documents to which access is granted sent to you, or allowing you to inspect copies of documents containing information about that person.

5. 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 (or the person who has authorised you to make a request on their behalf). 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

$15.00 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.

6. 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 or voluminous.

7. 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 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
  • If we refuse to process your request on the grounds that it is voluminous and/or complex and would involve an unreasonable diversion of resources from our other operations (we would consult with you to endeavour to clarify and/or narrow the scope of your request before making this decision).

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.

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 officer in our agency. 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 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 at www.oaic.gov.au.

10. Complaints

If you are unhappy 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’s website at www.oaic.gov.au. 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.

11. More information

If you require more information, or assistance with making an FOI request, please contact the FOI Coordinator on (02) 6198 3517 or by email at foi [at] afsa.gov.au.