The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right to:
- access copies of documents we hold (except exempt documents);
- ask for your personal information to be changed or annotated if incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading; and
- seek a review of a decision about your FOI Act request.
Before making a FOI request
Access to certain information is available without following a formal process under the FOI Act.
You should check the information we have published under our FOI Disclosure Log, Information Publication Scheme and Reports & data pages, to see if the documents are already publicly available.
Documents not available for access under FOI
The FOI Act provides for access to existing documents (as defined by the FOI Act) and not for information or data. It does not require us to create documents to address queries or to provide information, except in very limited circumstances. Where access is sought to statistical information and data tables that we do not hold in the form of a document, the FOI Act allows us to refuse the request.
This information may be available via our Data on request service, particularly where the request involves linking data from more than one source (known as data integration or data linkage). Please be aware that data requests are assessed against privacy principles, the terms of agreements with partner policy agencies and legislation (including s.29 of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987) to determine if the documents can be lawfully disclosed.
Please be aware that the Institute is not the primary holder of files compiled by medical and allied health professionals, whether in private practice or hospital settings. The Institute does not hold case files, notes, or documents of treating practitioners which may be contained within a personal medical file. Those documents should be sought directly from the relevant service providers and treating practitioners.
How to make a FOI request
Your request must:
- be in writing and state that it is an application under the FOI Act;
- provide enough information about the document(s) you are seeking to enable us to identify them (preferably by including a date range for your request); and
- provide an email or postal address for us to send a reply. A telephone number is also helpful in case we need to contact you to discuss your request.
To make a request, or for assistance with your request, you can email us at [email protected] or by addressing your correspondence to:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
GPO Box 570
Canberra ACT 2601
There is no charge for making an FOI request or for seeking access to a document that contains your own personal information. However, charges may apply to processing a request for documents not related to your personal information.
The AIHW applies charges in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 2019 administered by the Australian Information Commissioner. Charges may apply to processes including the time dedicated to searching for and retrieving relevant documents, examining documents, decision making time, consultation with other parties, photocopying and other costs.
If your request incurs any charges, you will be notified as soon as possible and we will provide an estimate of your charges and payment options. You will also be provided with the opportunity to advise us how you wish to proceed. Your request will not be processed until the relevant charges are paid. Regardless of whether fees are paid, it is possible that access may not be granted, as some exemptions may apply.
You can ask for any charges to be reduced or not imposed. Requests must be made in writing within 30 days of receiving the written estimate and giving your reasons.
Time for processing
We will notify you:
- within 14 days that we have received your request; and
- of our decision within 30 days of receipt of your request, unless we have informed you that the period has been extended.
The period to provide our decision may be extended in circumstances where, for example, we are required to consult with a third party or to process complex or large requests.
Seeking a review of our decision
If you are dissatisfied with our decision about your FOI request, you can apply for an internal review. An internal review is conducted by another officer in our agency. A request for internal review must be in writing and within 30 days after you are notified of the decision. It is also helpful if you state the grounds on which you think the decision should be reviewed. We will advise you of the fresh decision within 30 days of receiving your request.
You can also ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our internal review decision. Any requests to the Information Commissioner must be in writing and within 60 days of the date we made the decision. There is no charge payable for reviews.
If you are not happy with how we have handled your FOI request, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Information Commissioner. Alternatively, the Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions.
For more information, please email us at: [email protected].