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.

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Anna Collyer

Partner, Allens

Ben Harris

Lawyer, Allens

More information about freedom of information law

Last updated

1 July 2020

Commonwealth freedom of information laws: Resources

The OAIC publishes fact sheets and other resources that provide more information on the operation of the FoI Act (Cth). The Australian Information Commissioner also issues guidelines about the operation of the FoI Act (Cth). Australian Government ministers and agencies must have regard to these guidelines when performing a function or exercising a power under the FoI Act (Cth). However, FoI guidelines are not legally binding as these guidelines are not legislative instruments. 

These materials and other helpful freedom of information resources are available on the OAIC’s website (www.oaic.gov.au).

Victorian freedom of information laws: Resources

The VI Commissioner also publishes guides and other resources on the operation of the FoI Act (Vic). These resources are available on the VI Commissioner’s website (https://ovic.vic.gov.au).

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