Access to information under the Freedom of Information Act
A freedom of information request to the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) applies only to documents and records created by the Archives.
If you are searching for documents in the open period relating to migration and citizenship, family history, Indigenous Australia or war service records, for example, access can be sought under the Archives Act 1983. You can do this by visiting our website to Ask us a question or email [email protected] with your request.
For further information on the different ways that you can request access to records in the Archives' custody, please refer to our fact sheet on when to use the Freedom of Information, Archives and Privacy Acts.
Freedom of information
Freedom of information requests can be made to the National Archives of Australia if you are seeking access to records less than 20 years old, which are:
- created by the National Archives during the course of its business, including administrative records and records detailing the practices of the Archives
- created by the National Archives which contain your personal information
Access to Commonwealth archival records
- Archival records in the OPEN period (more than 20 to 30 years old):
If the records you are seeking were created by a Commonwealth Department or Agency and are more than 20 years old, you can request access to them under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) by emailing [email protected] or by visiting our Ask us a question page on our website.
- Records in the CLOSED period (less than 20 to 30 years old):
Access to records in the closed period can be requested under FOI by directing your request to the FOI section of the Government Department or Agency who created them.
Please note that only the creating agency can make a decision under the FOI Act in relation to those records. If the record you are seeking access to is in the Archives’ custody, the Archives can take reasonable steps to assist you to make a valid FOI request to the appropriate agency.
Freedom of information requests
Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), you have the right of access to any document created by the Archives through the course of our business. You can:
- access copies of documents (except exempt documents)
- ask for information about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading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 an FOI request
Your request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
- provide information about the document(s) you wish to access so that we can process your request
- provide an address for reply.
You can send your FOI request:
By email: [email protected]
By post: FOI Coordinator, Corporate Governance, National Archives of Australia
PO Box 4924 Kingston ACT 2604
If you need assistance to make an FOI request to the Archives, please contact our enquiries line on +61 2 6212 3600.
If you are making an FOI request on behalf of another person, you need to provide a specific, written authority from that person to send copies of documents to you or to allow you to inspect copies of documents containing information about the other person.
Fees and charges
There is no application fee for an FOI request.
There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing your personal information. 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|
If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.
What you can expect from us
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.
If you disagree with our decision
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.
You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:
- if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access;
- if we impose a charge; and
- if 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 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 from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can make a complaint to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available from the OAIC. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.
View the National Archives of Australia's Freedom of Information (FOI) Authorisations – March 2019 (pdf, 83kB).
These Authorisations were approved by the Director General on 30 March 2019.
Information Publication Scheme
As required by the FOI Act, we have an Information Publication Scheme entry that provides information on our structure, functions, appointments, annual reports, consultation arrangements, FOI officer, information we routinely release following FOI requests and information we routinely provide to Parliament.
FOI disclosure log
Our FOI disclosure log lists information we have released since 1 May 2011 in response to requests made under the FOI Act. Please note that the disclosure log requirement does not apply to some categories of information including (but not limited to) some personal information and information about business, commercial, financial or professional affairs of any person.