Commonwealth agencies must publish information about their operations and also release documents upon request under freedom of information unless they are absolutely or conditionally exempt. Reasons must be given and refusals can be disputed by complaint, first to the Australian Information Commissioner, then on appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Inspection is free and fixed charges apply to copies of documents. A separate freedom of information scheme applies to state government agencies.


Penny Alexander

Partner, Allens

Ben Harris

Lawyer, Allens

Freedom of information law: Contacts

Commonwealth freedom of information

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
Level 4, 15 William Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1800 228 333

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)
Tel: 1300 363 992
Online enquiries can be submitted via a form on the OAIC’s website.

Victorian freedom of information

Victorian Information Commissioner
Level 6, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 006 842

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Tel: 1300 018 228

VCAT hears matters at venues throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria; see VCAT’s website for addresses.

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Government and the individual