A complaint to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner must:
- be in writing;
- clearly set out the nature of the complaint;
- identify the agency or Minister who the complaint is about.
If you would like someone to lodge a complaint on your behalf (e.g. a solicitor), you must give them authorisation in writing and they must submit a copy of this authorisation when lodging the complaint.
To lodge a complaint with the FOI Commissioner:
- ensure that your complaint is a matter the FOI Commissioner can handle; and
- submit a completed and signed complaint form. You should include supporting documentation with your complaint form.
If you are unsure about whether the FOI Commissioner can handle your complaint, please feel free to contact us by calling 1300 842 364.
Please email your completed complaint form and all supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note the combined file size of all the electronic documents you attach must not exceed 5 megabytes.
To lodge a complaint by post, please download the complaint form and send your signed and completed form, with supporting documentation to:
Upon receipt of a complaint, staff of the Office of the FOI Commissioner will assess the complaint to determine whether it is within the jurisdiction of the FOI Commissioner.
Where a complaint is to be accepted, a staff member will be assigned to the matter and provide a recommendation to senior staff of the Office of the FOI Commissioner. A recommendation is then made to the FOI Commissioner with respect to the complaint and the Commissioner makes the determination whether to accept or not accept the complaint.
If the FOI Commissioner determines to accept the complaint, a letter will be sent to the complainant and the Minister or agency notifying them of the FOI Commissioner’s decision to investigate the complaint. A copy of the original complaint is enclosed with the letter to the Minister or agency.
The FOI Commissioner may decide not to accept a complaint or to dismiss a complaint at any time. The FOI Commissioner can also refer the complaint to another body or person if it is considered that the complaint would be more effectively or appropriately dealt with by another person or body who has the jurisdiction to deal with the complaint.
In circumstances where a complaint is deemed to fall within the jurisdiction of another authority, the FOI Commissioner will refer the matter to that authority, and provide formal notification to the complainant and agency regarding the referral.
The assigned staff member will undertake preliminary inquiries to determine the material facts and issues in relation to the complaint and whether the complaint can be resolved informally.
These inquiries may include liaising with the complainant and the agency to which, or the Minister to whom, the complaint relates and reviewing any documents that may be relevant to the complaint.
If a complaint is withdrawn or resolved informally, written agreement from the complainant is required before notifying the agency or Minister of the withdrawal or informal resolution of the complaint. It may also be necessary to send both parties written correspondence providing details of an informal resolution.
Where there is no withdrawal of a complaint, or the complaint cannot be resolved informally, conciliation may be considered.
If conciliation is successful, the FOI Commissioner will seek written agreement from the complainant and the agency or Minister, and resolve the complaint in accordance with that written agreement. If conciliation is unsuccessful, the complainant and the agency or Minister will be invited to make oral or written submissions in relation to the complaint.
After the consideration of any submissions, the FOI Commissioner may request further information from the agency or Minister, if the FOI Commissioner considers that such information is required in order for the Commissioner to deal with the complaint. This information may include the production of a document, other than a document that the agency claims to be exempt under section 28 (Cabinet documents) or 29A (documents affecting national security, defence or international relations) of the FOI Act.