How to access government information
In the ACT, information held by government is made available through the open access scheme and the right of access in the Freedom of Information Act 2016 (ACT) (FOI Act).
Step1 - Check the relevant government website
ACT government agencies and Ministers are required to make certain information publicly available. This includes policy documents, reports, budget papers and agency disclosure logs.
Check the agency website or act.gov.au/open-access to see if the information you are seeking is already available.
Step 2 - Contact the agency or Minister
If you did not find what you were after, contact the agency directly to ask if they have the information and if they can release it to you. Agencies may refer to this as an ‘informal request’. This process is simpler and less expensive than making a formal access application.
Step 3 - Make a formal application
If you have spoken to the agency and you are unable find the information you want, make a formal ‘access application’ to the agency or Minister under the FOI Act.
Look at the agency or Minister’s website for a Freedom of Information page for more information on the process you will need to follow. Provide as much detail as possible to help identify the information you are looking for.
Fees: You will not be charged for access to your own personal information. Processing fees may apply in other circumstances, however you can talk with the relevant agency about these as a fee waiver may apply.
You should receive a decision within 20 days of your application being received. The timeframe may be extended due to third party consultation or given by the ACT Ombudsman.
Step 4 - Seek Ombudsman review
If you are not satisfied with the decision on your access application, you can ask the ACT Ombudsman to review it. We will review the decision and consider all available material—including your view and the view of the decision-maker. For more information see FOI complaints and reviews.
You can ask for:
- personal information about you
- policy-related documents
- details about public programs and resources
- government expenditure and agency operations
- research used in decision-making.
Please note, the FOI Act does not apply to health records. More information is available on the ACT Health Directorate website https://www.health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/accessing-your-medical-records.
The following ACT agencies or organisations are required to provide information:
- ACT Government directorates and agencies
- government-owned corporations*
- public hospitals and health services*
- public authorities
- public universities (except ANU).
*there are some exceptions
If you are having difficulty accessing information held by a Commonwealth or State Government agency, you can contact the relevant oversight body for that agency:
- The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (for Commonwealth Matters)
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory