Freedom of Information

Making a Freedom of Information request

Freedom of Information (FOI) extends the right of every person to access information in the possession of the Australian Government and its authorities. It is limited only by exemptions necessary to protect essential public interests, and the private and business affairs of those about whom government agencies collect and hold information.

Your rights

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right to: 

  • access copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold;
  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect, or misleading; and
  • seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or to not amend your personal record.

Are you seeking statistics?

The ABS is Australia’s national statistical agency and publishes a range of statistical information on the ABS website. If you are unable to find the statistics you are seeking on our website, you should contact us by email at client.services@abs.gov.au

Statistical information which the ABS has collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 is exempt from release under the FOI Act and can not be provided under FOI.

Are you seeking a copy of answers provided to an ABS survey or Census?

If you provided information to the ABS, you may be able to obtain a copy by emailing at client.services@abs.gov.au

Filled in survey forms are destroyed when they are no longer required. The ABS also deletes personal identifiers such as name and address from electronic records when no longer required. If the ABS has already destroyed the survey form, or deleted your name and address from electronic records we will not be able to identify your information to return to you.

The ABS is not able to provide you a copy of information provided by another person.

If the information relates to answers provided by a business. Please call the survey specific line found on your survey form for more information or email client.services@abs.gov.au

Are you a current or former ABS employee seeking personnel records?

To request access to your personnel records please contact us by email at client.services@abs.gov.au 

If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of this request, or are not notified by the ABS of an outcome within 30 days after your request was made, you can then request access to your personnel records under the FOI Act.

How to make a FOI request

To make an FOI request to the ABS your request must: 

  • be in writing;
  • state that it is a request for the purposes of the FOI Act;
  • provide enough information about the document/s you are requesting, to assist us to process your request; and
  • provide an address (email or postal) for reply.

You can make an FOI request by email or post. An FOI request form is available to assist you to provide the necessary details needed to process your request. It is not compulsory to use this form.

FOI request form

You can send your request:

By email to:

freedomofinformation@abs.gov.au

By post to: 

FOI Contact Officer
Policy and Legislation Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2617

If you require assistance with your FOI request, please contact the FOI Contact officer by email at freedomofinformation@abs.gov.au 

Fees and charges

It does not cost anything to submit an FOI request. 

We do not charge for our time processing requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, we may charge for other FOI requests. 

You will be notified about charges before we provide the information you have requested. 

Please see the below table for a summary of the possible charges: 

ActivityCharge
Search and retrieval:time we spend searching for or retrieving a document$15.00 per hour
Decision-making:time we spend in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletionsFirst five hours: No charge Subsequent hours: $20.00 per hour
Transcript:preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand, or similar medium$4.40 per page of transcript
Photocopy $0.10 per page
Inspection:supervision by an agency officer, of your inspection of documents, or hearing or viewing of an audio or visual recording at our premises$6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery:posting or delivering a copy of a document at your requestCost of postage or delivery

If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a detailed written estimate and the basis of our calculation. If our estimate:

  • is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20.
  • exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.

You can ask for a charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. Evidence may be requested when seeking a waiver of charges.

What you can expect from the ABS throughout the FOI process

  • We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request.
  • We will consult with you if your request does not meet the requirements of a valid FOI request. This consultation phase will not count towards the 30 days to process your FOI request.
  • We will provide you with an estimate of the charges that apply to your request if applicable.
  • We will notify you of our decision on the FOI request within 30 days unless that time has been extended.
    • If a document contains information about a third party, we may consult with that third party, and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. If this occurs, we will notify you.
    • We may also seek your agreement, or approval from the Information Commissioner, to extend the time to give you our decision by up to 30 days.

If you disagree with our decision

When we make a decision on your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision, and your review rights. 

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed internally by the ABS, or by the Australian Information Commissioner: 

  • if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access;
  • if we impose a charge; and
  • if we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date, or misleading.

A third party who disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information about them, can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.

Internal review 

You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by a different authorised decision maker in our agency. You will need to request an internal review within 30 days of receiving the decision from the ABS. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request. 

Information Commissioner review 

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision, or our decision on internal review, within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third party). The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website

More information

If you require more information, please contact the FOI Contact Officer by email at freedomofinformation@abs.gov.au

Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI Disclosure Log page. Information about the ABS is also available under our Information Publication Scheme.

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.