Freedom of information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives the public access to information held by the Commonwealth by:
- giving people a general right of access to agency documents and a Minister’s official documents
- allowing individuals access to their personal records so they can correct any information that is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
Individuals can request access to agency documents and obtain copies of them. However, under the FOI Act, exemptions restrict the type of documents that can be released.
Making an FOI request
FOI requests must be in writing. Contact us or post a letter to:
Professional Services Review
PO Box 74
Fyshwick ACT 2609
In your request, you must:
- state that documents are sought under the Freedom of Information Act
- provide a postal or email address where we can write to you
- provide a telephone number (or email address) in case we need further information
- clearly describe the information you are seeking, including any reference numbers or articles that might help identify specific material.
Your request will be valid from the date that your request is clarified, if needed.
If a third party makes an FOI request on your behalf, you must provide PSR with a specific, written authority to either:
- send copies of documents to you, care of the third party
- allow the third party to inspect copies of the documents.
If you need help with an FOI request, please contact the PSR FOI Contact Officer on (02) 6120 9100 or contact us.
Processing FOI requests
We will advise you within 14 days that we have received your request, with an estimate of fees that may apply. We will aim to process all FOI requests within 30 days in line with the FOI Act, unless:
- the request is transferred to another agency who is more closely connected to the subject matter
- PSR needs to consult a third party, in which case an additional 30 days may be added
- additional time is granted by the Australian Information Commissioner because the case is complex or there is a backlog of requests
- a decision has been made to impose charges.
We may seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if the request is complex.
Once we have processed the request, we will forward any available documents to you. If the requested documents or parts of them are exempt under the FOI Act, we will inform you of this.
PSR publishes a list of FOI requests (excluding exempt information) in its FOI disclosure log within 10 working days of responding to the applicant.
Changing your details
You may ask for changes to your personal information contained in administrative documents if it is incomplete, misleading or out of date.
An application for changes must:
- be in writing
- say why the information is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading and what changes are needed
- specify an Australian address for correspondence.
PSR will notify you of a decision within 30 days, and you may seek a review of the decision.
Fees and charges
There is no application fee for an FOI request or application for internal review, and there are no charges for:
- requests to access documents that only contain personal information about the applicant
- the first 5 hours of decision-making time for all other applications
- requests where an agency or minister fails to provide a decision within the FOI Act timeframes (including a permitted extension period).
PSR can charge applicants for costs involved in processing other FOI requests, although it does not usually do so. Charge rates are fixed in line with FOI regulations.
Reviews and complaints
When we make a decision about an FOI request, we send the applicant a letter explaining our decision and the applicant’s right to a review and appeal.
Decisions can be subject to review if we:
- refuse to give access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
- impose a charge
- refuse to change or annotate information about an applicant that they claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
A third party who disagrees with our decision to release documents containing information about them can also ask for a review.