Freedom of Information and the Information Publication Scheme

Freedom of Information

The broad objective of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) is to give the Australian community access to information held by the Government of the Commonwealth.

In order to do this, individuals can submit a request to a Department for access to documents the department holds and obtain copies of those documents.  However, there are certain exemptions prescribed in the FOI Act which restrict the amount of documentation released.

Further information about the FOI process (including how to make a request to DSS under the FOI Act) can be obtained through the FOI contact page.

Information Publication Scheme

The 2010 reforms to the FOI Act included the introduction of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) which requires Australian Government agencies subject to the FOI Act to provide a broad range of information on their websites.  The IPS commences from 1 May 2011.

Further information about the IPS (including details of DSS's Information Publication Plan DSS's agency plan) can be obtained through the Information Publication Scheme page.

FOI Disclosure log

From 1 May 2011 DSS is required by s11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to publish a Disclosure log on the website. The disclosure log lists information which has been released in response to an FOI access request. The publication of such documents must be done within 10 working days of the decision being made.

Release under the Archives Act 1983

The Archives Act 1983 (Archives Act) provides the National Archives of Australia with responsibility for preserving and conserving the archives of the Commonwealth.

As a result of the 2010 reforms to the FOI Act, decisions made under the Archives Act have also been impacted.  The main change is that the period of time in which the FOI Act applies for access to Commonwealth documents has been reduced.  Under the FOI reforms, the open access period for Commonwealth records (except for Cabinet notebooks and census information) will be reduced from 30 years to 20 years over a 10 year period commencing from 1 November 2010. 

In the first instance, requests for access to a document which falls within the 'open access' period prescribed in the Archives Act should be made to the National Archives of Australia.

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