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Freedom of information

Freedom of information laws allow access by the general public to data held by national governments.

Access to information under the FOI Act is granted as follows:

  • a reasonable opportunity to inspect the document
  • provision of a copy of a document
  • provision of a means to view a film, videotape or sound recording
  • provision of a transcript of a sound recording or of shorthand notes

Why you might be refused access

We might refuse to give you access to documents under the FOI Act because they are exempt documents. Exempt documents include those where disclosure of the documents or the information in them:

  • could reasonably be expected to prejudice an investigation
  • could reasonably be expected to prejudice the proper administration of the law or the proper efficient conduct of our operations
  • would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information of another person or constitute a breach in confidence
  • is prohibited under other legislation -- for example, under the Migration Act secrecy provisions
  • is subject to legal professional privilege
  • is contrary to the public interest, and they are internal working documents

We have established procedures to help us make fair and consistent decisions about requests for information under the FOI Act. If you are refused access to documents, you can have the decision reviewed.

Sometimes we might give you a document with the exempt material deleted. You will be provided with the reasons for the exemption and your review rights.