Inspection of public documents

Reasons for inspecting public documents

There are many reasons that people may wish to inspect public documents including:

  • investigative purposes—members of the public may want to investigate the affairs of an individual for credit or public interest purposes
  • legal disputes—facts at the time can be obtained from the statement of affairs
  • finalising deceased estates—assets and legal title enquiries.

What documents are available for public inspection?

These personal insolvency documents are available for inspection:

Statement of affairs (other than Part A of the form containing certain confidential information)

Lodged in relation to:

  • a bankruptcy
  • a bankrupt deceased estate
  • a personal insolvency agreement.

Documents in relation to a personal insolvency agreement

Includes the:

  • debtor’s authority granting control over property to a trustee pending an agreement
  • debtor’s proposal to creditors
  • controlling trustee’s report on the proposal
  • personal insolvency agreement that was reached
  • trustee’s consent to administer the agreement.

Documents relating to an examination of a person by the Official Receiver

This may include:

  • the Official Receiver’s notes of the examination
  • any recordings of the examination
  • a transcript of the electronic recording of the examination (where a transcript was produced at the time of the examination).

Bankruptcy notice

Once a creditor's petition is presented on the basis of the debtor’s failure to comply with that notice.

Are there any time restrictions on document availability?

Only documents that have been filed with the Official Receiver (i.e. from 16 December 1996) can be requested from AFSA. Any document that was originally filed in the Federal Court of Australia before this date or documents that are with National Archives of Australia will need to be accessed by going to these agencies.

Access to records held by National Archives will depend on the open access period that applies. Contact the National Archives directly to find out what is accessible from their collection and what fees apply.

How can I access publicly available documents?

In order to inspect a public document we suggest that you complete the

as this provides us with all of the relevant information that we need to perform a search for you.  You will also need to pay the required inspection fee.

Please note that to conduct a public document search you need to provide us with the administration number to which the document relates. If you do not have the administration number, you will need to first conduct an NPII search to obtain it.

Completed forms should be emailed to registry [at] afsa.gov.au or by post to GPO Box 1550, Adelaide, SA 5001.

Note: Debtors, their creditors or their agents may inspect documents in relation to a personal insolvency proceeding in which they are a party without payment of the inspection fee.

Information about corporations

Enquiries about corporations should be directed to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

Privacy and confidentiality

In some instances documents, or parts of documents, are not available for public inspection eg the Bankruptcy Act provides that Part A of a bankrupt's statement of affairs is confidential, and may only be accessed by the bankrupt or his or her agent.

Where we hold any document that contains personal information about an individual, the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988 provide a right of access to the document by that individual, except where access may be refused under another Act of the Commonwealth which governs access to documents, such as the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Freedom of Information Act

Where a specific document that you wish to inspect is held by us but not available for public inspection, you may make an application under the Freedom of Information Act. See Freedom of information.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any documents that I cannot specifically inspect?

Yes. If the document is not contained in the list of publicly available documents above, then it generally cannot be inspected. Such documents include a trustee's or administrator's working papers and records documenting investigations or decisions.  There are, however, circumstances in which documents not on the list above may be inspected - for example, when a court orders the production of documents under a subpoena or similar order.

In addition, a debtor’s Part IX debt agreement proposal and statement of affairs are only available for inspection to the parties involved - that is, the debtor or the debtor’s creditors (or their agents) and the debt agreement administrator. Again, however, a court order may permit inspection by other parties.

Creditors should refer to trustees for more information about documents for inspection.