How to access government information

Easy access to government information promotes a culture of transparency.

Government information can help you understand how a decision that impacts you or your community has been made. You can also find out what information the government holds about you.

For more information, watch the video, see below or download our brochure Accessing Government Information.

How to access government information

ACT government agencies and Ministers are required to make certain information publicly available. There are four ways to get this information:

Step 1 Check the relevant government website

ACT agencies and Ministers must publish some information online under the Freedom of Information Act 2016. Check the agency website or 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. 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.

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.

What information can I access?

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.

Who can I ask for information?

The following ACT agencies or organisations are required to provide information:

  • ACT Government directorates and agencies
  • Ministers
  • government-owned corporations*
  • public hospitals and health services*
  • public authorities
  • public universities (except ANU).

*there are some exceptions

Freedom of Information outside the ACT

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: