Freedom of Information

The ACT Freedom of Information Act 2016 (the ACT FOI Act) came into effect on 1 January 2018. Each ACT Government Directorate is responsible for responding to FOI access applications that relate to their functions or roles and has obligations to provide public access to government information.

The ACT FOI Act:

  • provides a right of access to government information unless access to the information would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest; and
  • recognises the importance of public access to government information for the proper working of representative democracy; and
  • enables the public to participate more effectively in government processes and to promote improved decision-making within government; and
  • makes the people and bodies that are responsible for governing the Territory more accountable to the public; and
  • ensures that, to the fullest extent possible, government information is freely and publicly available to everyone; and
  • facilitates and promotes, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost, the disclosure of the maximum amount of government information; and
  • ensures that personal information held by the Territory is accurate, complete, up-to-date and not misleading.

The ACT FOI Act also identifies a number of information types that agencies are required to make publicly available, including about:

  • the functions of the agency, including structure, kinds of government information held and how requests for information may be made;
  • the work of the agency as contained in any document tabled in the Legislative Assembly;
  • the agency’s policy documents;
  • budgetary papers;
  • government grants made or administered by the agency;
  • the agency’s disclosure log;
  • a statement of all boards, councils, committees, panels and other bodies established by the agency for the purpose of advising the agency or responsible Minister, including reports or recommendations prepared by such bodies;
  • ministerial briefs (incoming ministerial, parliamentary estimates, annual reports and question time) that are five or more years old;
  • a publication undertaking by the agency;
  • information declared by the ACT Ombudsman to be open access information; or
  • information prescribed by regulation.

Our information relevant to most of these information types is available on our website www.education.act.gov.au. This will be added to over time and as requirements take effect. Information will also be published on the ACT Government’s open access website www.act.gov.au/open-access.

We are responsible for responding to FOI requests for access to documents that we hold. We may be able to give you the documents you seek without requiring submission of a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) application. You are encouraged to contact us before resorting to the more formal FOI process.

A request for access to documents should:

  • be in writing;
  • state that the request is made under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 2016 (or for documents held by the Children’s Education and Care Assurance (CECA), which administers the legislation covering licensed childcare services, state that the request is made under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982, as modified by the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011);
  • 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 may 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 license.

Where a request is made for personal information on another person's behalf, we 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 Community Liaison Branch
ACT Education Directorate

Requests can be submitted by:

Post to GPO Box 158
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Email to EDULegalLiaison@act.gov.au

The FOI Coordinator can be contacted by phone 02 6205 0720.

We will acknowledge the receipt of a request within 10 working days of receiving a valid request and provide the details of a contact officer.

We will take all reasonable steps to provide a response to a request within 20 working days of receiving a valid request. The response will explain our decision and advise applicants of their rights of appeal.

If we decide 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 15 working  days. Applicants will be notified if we decide it is necessary to undertake a third party consultation.

Deciding Access to Documents

Our decision about an FOI request will be:

  • to give access to the information; or
  • that the information is not held by the us; or
  • to refuse to give access to the information because the information is contrary to the public interest; or
  • to refuse to deal with the application; or
  • to refuse to confirm or deny that the information is held by us because the information is contrary to the public interest; and doing so would, or could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of a person; or be an unreasonable limitation on a person’s rights under the Human Rights Act 2004; or significantly prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation.

For requests for access to documents made under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Act sets 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 we decide 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.

A remission of processing charges will be applied if:

  • the information requested was previously publicly available but is no longer publicly available; or
  • the information requested is of special benefit to the public; or
  • the applicant is a concession card holder and demonstrates a material connection to the information requested; or
  • the applicant is a not-for-profit organisation and application relates to the activities or purpose of the organisation; or
  • the applicant is a member of the Legislative Assembly.

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 2016 do not attract any charges for the first 50 pages provided.

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

The ACT Freedom of Information Act 2016 requires the publication of a disclosure log providing information about freedom of information requests received by us, except for requests for personal information.

Information required to be published on the disclosure log will be included within 3-10 working days after the decision notice is provided to the applicant.

Disclosure log

Documents provided to an applicant under the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989 are published on the ACT Open Government website in accordance with the ACT Government’s Online FOI Publication policy.

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

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 2016 may request a review by the ACT Ombudsman.

A third party (a person or another entity) may request a review by the ACT Ombudsman if a decision is made to release a document that is of concern to them.

An application to the ACT Ombudsman must be made within 20 working days of a decision being notified:

  • for FOI requests, in our disclosure log ; or
  • for third party documents, of the decision to release the document; or
  • for open access information, that the information will not be made available because it is contrary to the public interest.

The ACT Ombudsman must review the decision and, within 30 working days:

  • confirm the decision; or
  • vary the decision; or
  • set aside the decision and make a substitute decision.

There are no charges for a request for a review by the ACT Ombudsman.

A review decision by the ACT Ombudsman may be reviewed by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) at the request of a participant in the review.

Fees may apply for a review of a decision by ACAT. Information about ACAT fees can be found on the ACAT 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 may request a review of the decision. Information about requesting a review can be found on the website of National Education and Care Services FOI and Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman.

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