Freedom of information

Introduction

The following pages detail how to make a freedom of information (FOI) request to government organisations.

Government organisations include government departments, agencies, and local councils.

Under a FOI request you can apply to:

  • access government information
  • access personal information
  • correct personal information
  • seek an internal review of a decision.

Government organisations must provide you with the information unless one of the specific refusal reasons set out in the Information Act apply. 

These reasons can be that:

  • the information is already publicly available
  • it's not in the public interest to do so
  • the information is subject to an exemption.

The organisation must give you written reasons for its decision. If you disagree with the outcome, you can seek a review of the decision.

Sometimes you can get the information you want more quickly and cheaply through an organisation's access scheme. You should contact the department and ask or check their website.

Government departments have an extensive collection of publications available online, including annual reports.

Useful links

Fore more information about FOI and requests visit the following web pages:


What you need to lodge a request

You can submit your freedom of information requests to a government department, organisation or local council by:

  • written letter - this can be a letter or email
  • or by filling in the application form relevant to your request listed below.

Application to access information (40.3 kb) 
Application to access information (87.7 kb)

Application to correct information (40.0 kb)
Application to correct information (84.8 kb) 

Request in writing

For an application to be valid and processed it must:

  • specify your name and an address for correspondence
  • include sufficient details to identify the information
  • include proof of your identity - eg: the organisation sighting or receiving a copy of your driver licence or similar document - to find out more about proof of identity go to the Office of the Information Commissioner website
  • be accompanied by the application fee (if applicable).

Fees

Read below to find out about the fees you may have to pay to make a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Personal information

There is no application fee to get personal information but there may be other fees that apply.

Government information or a mix of government and personal information

There is an application fee of $30 (including GST) that must be made before an application for government information is accepted, as well as search, processing and copying fees.

To find out more about fees go to the Office of the Information Commissioner website.

Processing fee

Once your request for information has been assessed, an agency may ask you to pay them a fee to process it.

You will first need to pay a deposit for this processing fee.

Once you've paid the deposit, the agency will process your request and then tell you what access is available.

You'll then be asked to pay the balance of the processing fee and the information that has been determined to be released will be given to you.  

Deposit for processing fee

The deposit for the processing fee you may be asked to pay is:

  • $25 if the processing fee is estimated to be $100 or less
  • 50% of the estimate - if the processing fee is estimated to be more than $100.

All of the following apply to processing fee deposits:

  • the agency will not proceed with your application until you have paid the required deposit
  • paying the deposit does not guarantee that you will get all the information you requested
  • if the actual cost of processing ends up being less than your deposit (for example, if it is quickly discovered that no information exists) you will be refunded the excess amount
  • an agency can keep your deposit even if no information is ultimately released to you, if the actual processing costs are higher than the deposit.

How to pay your FOI fee

The application and processing fees can be made in cash or cheque by:

  • mail
  • in person to the nearest Receiver of Territory Monies (RTM) office.

Credit card payment can be made by:

  • phone to (08) 8999 1606
  • in person to the nearest RTM office.

Find the address and contact details for your nearest Receiver of Territory Monies.

How to apply for a waiver of fees

If you do not have much money or your information has a strong public interest value, you can apply to have your fee waived or reduced.

A waiver of fees is not automatically granted, and a dispute about paying fees or a fee waiver can delay your application from being processed.

To apply for a waiver of fees submit the application form below.

Application to waive or reduce fees (40.1 kb)
Application to waive or reduce fees (79.3 kb)

For more information about waiving of fees go to the website for the Office of the Information Commissioner.


How to lodge your request

You must make your freedom of information (FOI) request to the government department, agency or local council that holds the information you seek.

Only that particular department, agency or council can process your request.

NT Government

For a list of Northern Territory Government agencies and the how to lodge your request with them go to the Office of the Information Commissioner website. 

On the website, scroll down to the Public Sector list to find the agency or department you want.

Local government

To lodge a request with a regional council, contact them directly.

You can find contact details for local government on the Office of the Information Commissioner website.

Scroll down to the City Councils and Shire Councils lists.

Other information about councils can be found on the website of the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory.

In remote areas

In remote areas you can lodge your FOI request at your nearest police station.

The application will be sent via the NT police Peter McAulay Centre in Berrimah to the relevant government organisation.


What happens after you lodge a request

The government has 30 days after they receive your application to:

  • locate the information you have requested
  • assess what information can be released
  • provide you with a decision in writing about whether you have been granted access
  • and provide you with the reasons for withholding some or all of the information you requested.

The organisation may tell you that it requires more time if: 

  • the application relates to a large amount of information
  • extensive searches are required to locate the information
  • complying with the 30-day period would unreasonably interfere with the conduct of the operations of the organisation
  • the application includes information about a third party and further time is required to seek the third party's views in regards to the release of the information.

The organisation will provide you with the details of and reasons for any such delays. If you are concerned the delays are unreaonsable, you can seek advice from the Office of the Information Commissioner. 

The organisation may:

  • provide you with access in full
  • provide you with access in part 
  • refuse access
  • neither confirm nor deny that information exists but state that if it did the information would be exempt.

Go to the Office of the Information Commissioner website.


Review of decisions

If the organisation has not made a decision on your application within 30 days, the organisation is deemed to have refused your decision and you have the right to seek a review of the decision.

You may also apply for a review if you aren't satisfied with the response in the decision to your application.

To seek a review you must fill in and submit an application for a review.

Application for a review of a decision (89.8 kb)
Application for a review of a decision (41.5 kb)

The organisation has 30 days to review the decision.

The organisation will advise you in writing of its decision and has to advise you in writing of its decision and the reasons for its decision, including your right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

A review is taken to be refused if you are not notified of a decision within 30 days. If you are not satisfied with the review decision, or if you receive no decision, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner. 

You have 90 days from receiving the review decision to make your complaint. 

For more information about freedom of information requests, processes or privacy complaints contact the Office of the Information Commissioner.