COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – impact on freedom of information (FOI) requests
The department is actively processing FOI requests and is aiming to finalise all requests as quickly as possible. However, the department's resources have been diverted to manage and respond to COVID-19 and there is an increased workload across key areas of the department. This is having an impact on the department's ability to process FOI requests and we may need to seek your agreement, or that of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, to an extension of time.
We encourage potential applicants to use self-service or administrative access schemes where possible, and to consider deferring non-essential FOI requests. In order to assist in ensuring FOI requests can still be processed in a timely manner during this time, applicants are also encouraged to consider framing the scope of their requests as narrowly as possible.
Access to documents about you held by employment services providers
You can ask to be given a copy of personal information that the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department) or its contracted employment service providers hold about you. The department and its contracted employment service providers can give you copies of some documents without the need for a FOI request.
If you would like to access documents about you held by your employment services provider, before you ask the department, you should ask your employment services provider. Your employment services provider is required to respond to your request within 30 days.
Access to school records
The department does not hold school records relating to individual students. If you wish to access such records, please contact the relevant State or Territory education department.
Access to documents under the FOI Act
The object of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) is to give the Australian community access to information held by the Australian Government.
The FOI Act aims to achieve this objective by:
- requiring agencies to publish certain information on a website
- provide for a right of access to documents.
Right of access under the FOI Act
The 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- ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading
- seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.
We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.
How to make a Freedom of Information request
Applications for access to documents must:
- be in writing;
- state that the application is made under the FOI Act;
- provide enough information concerning the documents sought as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of the department to identify them; and
- give details of how notices may be sent to the applicant (for example, a postal or email address).
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the department is currently unable to action FOI requests received via post. To ensure that your request is actioned, applications to the department should be sent to the department via email to the following address: FOI@dese.gov.au
Please note: This email address is for applications for documents under the FOI Act only. The department is unable to respond to non-FOI related enquiries sent to this email address. If you have a general enquiry for the department, you can contact the department by using the online enquiry form.
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. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:
|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|
What happens after your application is submitted?
- A FOI officer in the department will deal with your application in accordance with the requirements under the FOI Act and will make a decision on access to the documents you have requested.
- We will acknowledge receipt of your FOI request.
- If you are liable to pay a processing charge we will send you an assessment of the charge as soon as practicable.
- When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights.
If you disagree with our decision
You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:
- decisions where we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or we defer giving you access
- decisions where we impose a charge
- decisions where we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
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.
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.
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 Australian 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.
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 Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.
If you wish to make an FOI request, please contact a member of the FOI Team by e-mail to FOI@dese.gov.au. As noted above, this email address is for applications for documents under the FOI Act only. The department is unable to respond to general enquiries sent to this address, which should be sent to the department using the online enquiry form.
Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log.