Freedom of Information

The ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link (the FOI Act) gives individuals the legal right to:

Note: Requests for access to documents held by the ACT Children’s Education and Care Assurance (CECA) which administers the legislation covering licensed childcare services, should be made under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 External Link, as modified by the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 External Link.

The ACT FOI Act also requires agencies to make publish information about:

  • the way they are organised and their functions
  • the types of decisions they make
  • the arrangements they have for public participation in their functions, and
  • the types of documents they hold and how they can be accessed.

This is called a Section 7 Statement.

Agencies must also prepare and make available a list of documents published by the agency which are used in making decisions or recommendations which affect members of the public. This is called a Section 8 Statement.

Requests for access to documents

Each ACT Government directorate is responsible for responding to FOI requests for access to documents that relate to their functions or roles.

Those seeking access to documents are encouraged to contact the Directorate before resorting to the more formal FOI process. Some documents, such as student records, may be available without the need to make a request under the FOI Act.

A request for access to documents should:

  • be in writing
  • state that the request is made under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link (or for documents held by the Children’s Education and Care Assurance (CECA), under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 External Link)
  • identify the document/s to which access is being sought and provide as much information as possible about the document/s requested to assist with the processing of the request
  • provide a contact telephone number and/or email address, and
  • provide a postal address to which the response to the request can be sent.

Applicants requesting documents containing their own personal information must provide evidence of identity such as a certified copy of the personal details page of a valid passport or a current Australian driver's licence.

Where a request is made for personal information on another person's behalf, the Directorate will require a letter of authorisation to release any documents to that person as well as proof of identity of the person for whom the information is being requested.

All FOI requests should be directed to:

The FOI Coordinator
Governance and Legal Liaison
Governance and Assurance Branch
ACT Education Directorate

Requests can be posted to:
GPO Box 158
CANBERRA ACT 2601

emailed to det.legal.liaison@act.gov.au

or delivered to the Directorate at
220 Northbourne Avenue
BRADDON ACT 2612

Phone 02 6207 6846
Fax (02) 6205 9453
National Relay Service 13 36 77
Website http://www.det.act.gov.au

The Directorate will acknowledge the receipt of a request within 14 days and provide the details of a contact officer.

The Directorate must take all reasonable steps to provide a response to a request within 30 calendar days. The response will explain the Directorate's decision and advise applicants of their rights of appeal.

If the Directorate decides to consult with another person or organisation (a third party) in relation to information contained in the documents requested, the time frame for processing the request is extended by an additional 30 calendar days. Applicants will be notified if the Directorate decides it is necessary to undertake a third party consultation.

Exempt documents

Both the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link and the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 External Link set out certain types of documents which may not be accessible (called exempt documents). Exemptions are generally used to protect essential public interests, confidential matters or the private or business affairs of others.

If the Directorate decides not to grant access to a requested document, it will provide written reasons for the decision and advise applicants of their rights of appeal.

Charges

There is no application fee for FOI requests. However processing charges may be applied in certain circumstances for requests for access to documents. Applicants have the right to appeal a decision to impose processing charges.

A remission of or reduction in processing charges can be sought on the grounds of financial hardship or public interest. Applicants will need to provide sufficient evidence to support a claim for the remission of processing fees.

Requests for documents relating to the applicant's personal affairs do not attract processing charges.

Requests for access to documents under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link do not attract any charges for the first 10 hours of processing and the first 200 pages of copying.

Information about charges under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 External Link can be found on the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner External Link

Freedom of Information Online

Since October 2011 documents provided to an applicant under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link may also be released online on the ACT Open Government External Link website.

Exceptions to this policy are documents that are exempt for privacy reasons, commercial confidentiality or copyright. Full details of the ACT Government Online FOI Publication External Link policy are available on the ACT Open Government website.

Copies of documents released under FOI will be uploaded to the website within 15 business days of the material being provided to the applicant.

Requests for amendment of records containing personal information

FOI legislation gives individuals the right to ask for their personal information to be amended if they have been given access to documents and they believe information contained in the documents is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.

There are no processing charges for requests to amend records containing personal information.

All requests for the amendment of personal records should be directed to the FOI Coordinator at the address stated above. The request should give particulars of the information the applicant believes is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading and specify the amendments the applicant wishes to be made.

If the Directorate decides not to amend a document or decides to add an appropriate notation to the record, an applicant can appeal the decision.

Appeal Rights

Applicants who are dissatisfied with the initial decision in relation to a request for access to documents or a request to amend a personal record under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link may:

  • request the Directorate reconsider its initial decision (this is known as an request for internal review)
  • seek an independent review of the decision by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT review) if the individual is not satisfied after the Directorate has conducted an internal review;
  • complain to the Ombudsman about the Directorate's decision or action (Ombudsman review); and
  • also appeal if the Directorate does not provide reasons for the decisions made on the request or delays in informing the applicant of the outcome of the request.

Applicants may also appeal against a decision to impose charges for processing a request.

There are no charges for a request for an internal review of a decision by the Directorate.

Fees may apply for a review of a decision by ACAT. Information about ACAT fees can be found on the ACAT External Link website.

Applicants who are dissatisfied with the initial decision in relation to a request for access to documents or a request to amend a personal record relating to the Children’s Education and Care Assurance (CECA) under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 External Link may request a review of the decision. Information about requesting a review can be found on the website of National Education and Care Services Freedom of Information Commissioner External Link.

Directorate Organisation, Functions and Decision-making

The ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link requires agencies to publish information concerning the way they are organised and their functions.

Section 7 Statement

Section 7 of the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link requires the Directorate to publish information concerning its functions and organisation. The Directorate's section 7 statement can be found in the Directorate's Annual Report.

Section 8 Statement

Section 8 of the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 External Link requires the Directorate to prepare and make available each year a statement (which may be in the form of an index) specifying the documents that are provided by the Directorate or used by the Directorate or its officers in making decisions or recommendations for the purpose of an enactment or scheme administered by the Directorate.