Access to information
We make a range of information available for public access. We can give you certain information if you request it through the access arrangements we have set up, as outlined below. You can also formally request access to documents we hold under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles and the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
Requesting information or documents about my complaint
Most requests for information or copies of documents can be dealt with informally and quickly – a phone call or email may be all that is required. Staff of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) are able to provide certain kinds of personal information quickly and informally without a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. This includes:
- documents that have previously been provided to you by us;
- records of conversations (if any) between yourself and our staff; and
- Some database entries relating to the progress of any complaint or application for review that you have made.
We will respond to informal requests for your personal information with 30 days. If we are unable to fulfill your information request, we may ask you to make an FOI request for the information.
Access to approved aged care provider records
The most direct way to seek access to an aged care provider’s records is to contact them directly.
Providers have a responsibility under aged care and other laws to give people access to their own health records. (In aged care legislation, providing access to care records is a requirement of the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights for both residential and home care).
If this is unsuccessful, you can raise a complaint with us and we can work with you and the provider to resolve the issue.
If you are seeking care records of someone you do not legally represent, be aware that there are restrictions in the Australian Privacy Principles and the Aged Care Act 1997, and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 about disclosing this information to you. You must have written consent from the person's legal representative, authorising you to access their care records.
We recommend you ask for signed consent for you to access the records. You and/or the person/legal representative may then contact the approved aged care provider to seek access.
We cannot give you copies of documents we hold containing information that relates to the affairs of the approved provider, unless the provider authorises release to you.
Australian Privacy Principles and Freedom of Information
The Australian Privacy Principles outline how we must handle, use and manage personal information. Under these Principles, individuals have a right to access their own personal information.
You also have the right to seek information held by government agencies under the FOI Act.
There are limitations on what the Commission can release under the FOI Act. Information that is not your personal information or that relates to the affairs of an approved provider may be exempt from release unless the consent of the third party or the approved provider is obtained. We also do not hold complete care records for all care recipients.
For this reason, we recommend that the quickest and most useful outcomes can be achieved through contacting the aged care provider directly first. If unsuccessful, you can raise a complaint about the aged care provider’s refusal to provide access.
Your rights under Freedom of Information
The purpose of the FOI Act is to give the public access to information held by the Commonwealth Government. The FOI Act gives any person 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
- seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record
You can ask to access any document held by the Commission. We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those containing protected information (as that term is defined in the Aged Care Act 1997), documents relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.
How to obtain information
To obtain information we hold you can:
- make a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request
- view publically available information published under the Information Publication Scheme and our FOI disclosure log.
How to make an FOI request
Your request must:
- be in writing
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI act
- provide sufficient information concerning the document(s) to assist us to identify the document(s) and process your request
- specify how notices under the FOI Act may be sent to you.
You may wish to complete the following form to request access to documents under the FOI Act
Application Form (PDF, 375 KB)
Where to send your FOI request
By post to:
The Freedom of Information Officer
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
GPO Box 9819
Canberra ACT 2601
By email to: FOI@agedcarequality.gov.au
How to contact our FOI Officer
If you require assistance with your request, please contact our FOI Officer by email at FOI@agedcarequality.gov.au or 1800 500 294 (free call).
Fees and charges
There is no application fee for an FOI request.
There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only your personal information. Processing charges may apply to other requests. The list of applicable charges is available in the Freedom of Information (charges) Regulations 1982
If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20. Where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and evidence of financial hardship and your reasons for seeking waiver or reduction of the charge. We may decide to remit, reduce or not impose processing charges based on certain circumstances.
What you can expect from us
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of any charges that apply to your request. We will notify you of our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we may need to consult with them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.
If we do not make a decision within time
If we do not make a decision within 30 days, or within any extended time period, to process your FOI request, we are deemed to have refused your FOI request. You may make an application to the Australian Information Commissioner seeking review of the deemed refusal decision (more information below).
If you disagree with our decision
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our reasons for decision and informing you of your review rights.
You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:
- 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
- if we refuse to change or annotate information about you which 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.
You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision by seeking internal review of the decision. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in our agency. We will advise you of the internal review decision within 30 days of receiving your request. There is no charge for an internal review.
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. There is no charge for an application to the Information Commissioner. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request or with our Information Publication Scheme, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available on the OAIC website. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.
Freedom of Information disclosure log
Full details: FOI disclosure log.
If you require more information, please contact our FOI Officer by email at FOI@agedcarequality.gov.au or 1800 500 294 (free call)
Further information about the FOI Act is available on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.