Freedom of information

What is freedom of information?

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

The FOI Act aims to achieve this objective by:

  • requiring that agencies publish specific information on their websites
  • providing for a right of access to documents.

ASQA routinely publishes information about its activities that may be of interest to the Australian community.

ASQA manages requests for information information under the guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under s 93A of the FOI Act.

Right of access under the FOI Act

The FOI Act gives any person the right to:

  • access copies of documents (except exempt records) that ASQA holds
  • ask for information ASQA holds about them to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading
  • seek a review of a decision not to allow access to a document or not to amend their record.

Exempt documents

ASQA can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents, that are considered ‘exempt’.

Exempt documents may include:

  • those relating to national security
  • documents containing material obtained in confidence
  • Cabinet documents
  • other matters set out in the FOI Act.

ASQA's publication obligations

The FOI Act requires agencies to:

  • publish certain information about the agency under the Information Publication Scheme
  • keep a disclosure log of certain documents to which access has been provided according to the FOI Act.

How do I make an FOI request?

Applications for access to documents must:

  • be in writing (email is acceptable)
  • state that the application is made under the FOI Act
  • provide enough information to allow an ASQA officer to identify the documents you are seeking
  • give details of how notices may be sent to the applicant (for example, a postal or email address).

Where do I send my request?

Send your application to ASQA by email or pre-paid post.

Email foi@asqa.gov.au
Post Freedom of Information Officer 
Australian Skills Quality Authority 
GPO Box 9928 
Melbourne VIC 3001

Assistance with your FOI request

Under the FOI Act, ASQA must take reasonable steps to assist you to make a valid FOI request.

If you require assistance with your FOI request, please contact ASQA by emailing: foi@asqa.gov.au.

If you make an FOI request to ASQA, and ASQA believes that the request is the responsibility of another agency or Minister, ASQA will take reasonable steps to assist you to direct your FOI request appropriately.

What happens after ASQA receives your FOI request?

ASQA processes applications following the requirements of the FOI Act—we will acknowledge receipt of your FOI request within 14 days.

Timeframes for making a decision

Generally, ASQA will decide on your FOI request and notify you of its decision within 30 days of receiving your request.

However, ASQA has the capactiy to extend this timeframe in certain circumstances, outlined in the following table.

Reason for extension Action and length of the extension
Consultation with a third party is required under the FOI Act ASQA will have an additional 30 days to make a decision
ASQA requires more time to make a decision ASQA may apply to the Information Commissioner for an additional 30 days or more to process your FOI request
Your FOI request is complex or voluminous ASQA may apply to the Information Commissioner for an additional 30 days or more to process your FOI request
ASQA may make a decision to impose charges The period between ASQA sending an intention to charge notification and the day a final decision regarding imposing a fee is made, is disregarded when calculating the time for processing your FOI request

Consultation

In some circumstances, ASQA may need to consult a third party before deciding on your request.

Affected third parties may include:

  • A state or territory may need to be consulted about documents containing information which originated with, or was received from, the state or territory.
  • An individual may require consultation about documents containing either their personal information or information about their business or professional affairs.
  • An organisation or undertaking may require consultation relating to documents containing information about their business, commercial or financial affairs.

If ASQA consults a third party under the FOI Act, it is required to take in to account to any submissions made by the third party.

Notification of decision

Once we decide on your FOI request, ASQA will notify you in writing of that decision.

Where ASQA decides not to grant you access in full to all documents that you have sought, ASQA will provide you with the reasons for its decision and notify you of your review rights.

Providing access to documents

Ordinarily, ASQA will provide you with copies of any documents released in response to your FOI request once:

  • all applicable charges are paid (if any)
  • there is no outstanding objection to release by a third party.

If ASQA decides that part of a document you seek is exempt or irrelevant, it may provide you with an edited copy of the document with the exempt or irrelevant material deleted.

Exemptions and conditional exemptions

Under the FOI Act, ASQA is not required to provide you with access to an all or part of an exempt document or conditionally exempt document if the disclosure of that document would be contrary to the public interest.

The exemptions and conditional exemptions are set out in the FOI Act.

If ASQA decides all or part of a document is conditionally exempt, it will give you access unless ASQA decides that such access contrary to the public interest.

Whether access to a document is contrary to the public interest is determined by various factors set out in Section 11B of the FOI Act.

Is there a charge for FOI requests?

There are no application fees for FOI requests.

ASQA does not charge for processing requests for access to documents containing only personal information about an applicant. However, processing charges may apply to other requests.

The most common charges are displayed in the table below.

Action Charge
Search and retrieval—time ASQA spends searching for or retrieving a document $15.00 per hour
Decision making—time spent in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions
  • First five hours: Nil
  • Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Photocopying $0.10 per page
Delivery—posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request Cost of postage or delivery

If ASQA decides that you are liable to pay a charge in relation to your FOI request, ASQA will send you a notice which will:

  • explain that we believe you are responsible for paying this charge
  • provide an estimate of that charge
  • set out how you may seek to have the charge reduced or not imposed
  • detail the likely effects on the timeframe for processing your FOI request.

Reviews and complaints

An applicant can ask for a review of the following decisions if ASQA:

  • refuses to provide access to all or part of a document
  • defers providing access to all or part of a document
  • imposes a charge
  • refuses to change or annotate personal information about an applicant that the applicant claims is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.

A third party who disagrees with ASQA's decision to provide access to documents that contain information about them can also ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Internal review

Applicants can request in writing that ASQA reconsider its decision through an internal review. You should request an internal review within 30 days of being notified of an FOI decision, although ASQA has the discretion to extend this time.

The internal review will not be conducted by the officer who made the original decision, but rather, by another officer in the agency.

ASQA will advise you of the outcome of the review within 30 days of receiving your request.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review:

  • ASQA’s original decision
  • ASQA’s decision on internal review.

You must make this request to the Information Commissioner within 60 days of receiving notice of the date of decision (or within 30 days of the notification of an affected third party).

The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision, or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may also decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances.

Review by Administrative Appeals Tribunal

If you do not agree with a decision of the Information Commissioner, you can request that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) review the decision.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way ASQA has handled your FOI request, you may complain to the Australian Information Commissioner, who may investigate ASQA's actions.

More information about FOI complaints is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Freedom of information disclosure log

Publicly available information released following an FOI access request

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is required by the Freedom of Information Act 1982 s 11C to publish a disclosure log on its website. The disclosure log lists information released in response to an FOI access request. This requirement has applied since 1 May 2011.

The disclosure log requirement does not apply to:

  • personal information about any person if publication of that information would be ‘unreasonable’
  • information about the business, commercial, financial or professional affairs of any person if publication of that information would be ‘unreasonable’
  • other information covered by a determination made by the Australian Information Commissioner if publication of that information would be ‘unreasonable’
  • any information if it is not reasonably practicable to publish the information because of the extent of modifications that would need to be made to delete the information listed in the above dot points.

The information described in this disclosure log has been released by ASQA under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and is available for public access. Information that is not available on a website may be obtained by emailing foi@asqa.gov.au or writing to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Australian Skills Quality Authority—GPQ
Box 9928
MELBOURNE VIC 3001

A charge may be imposed to reimburse ASQA for the cost incurred in copying or reproducing the information or sending it to you. There will be no charge for the time spent by ASQA in processing the FOI request that led to this information being made available. You will be notified if any charge is payable and required to pay the charge before the information is provided.

More information

For more information, including more details about ASQA's FOI policy, email ASQA on foi@asqa.gov.au or call the ASQA Info Line on 1300 701 801.

Read the information that ASQA routinely publishes under the requirements of the Information Publication Scheme.

For more information about FOI, please refer to the FOI Guidelines and other information available from the Information Commissioner.

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