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NHMRC

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) provides any person with the right to access documents held by Commonwealth agencies, including NHMRC.  This right of access is limited where documents, or parts of documents, are exempt.

Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence, commercially sensitive documents and Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.

We note that some members of NHMRC's Council may be exempt from these requirements as per Schedule 2, Part II, Division 1 of the FOI Act, (Agencies exempt in respect of particular documents) which states:

National Health and Medical Research Council, in relation to documents in the possession of members of the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council who are not persons appointed or engaged under the Public Service Act 1999.

The FOI Act also gives you a right to ask that we amend records that contain information about you that is incomplete, incorrect, misleading or out of date, and gives you a right to seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.

Documents available outside the FOI Act

You can get certain information, including NHRMC's publications and guidelines without following a formal process under the FOI Act. Some of this information is available on NHMRC's website or by contacting us.

Documents available via our Information Publication Scheme (IPS) and FOI Disclosure log

Before making an FOI application you should check whether the information is published under the NHMRC's Information Publication Scheme.

Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can also be obtained from our FOI Disclosure Log.

How to make a Freedom of Information application

The application must:

  • be made in writing;
  • state that it is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act;
  • provide enough information about the documents for a responsible officer of the agency to identify them; and
  • specify how notices and documents can be sent to you (for example an email address).

Applications can be sent to:

Email:

foi@nhmrc.gov.au

Post:

The FOI Coordinator
National Health and Medical Research Council
GPO Box 1421
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for an FOI application (including an internal review application).

There are no costs where you request access to documents containing only your personal information.  However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

Activity item

Charge

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 deletions

First five hours: Nil

Subsequent hours: $20 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 NHMRC officer of your inspection of documents or hearing or viewing 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 request

Cost of postage or delivery

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 FOI application.

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 you may need to provide some evidence.

All charges will be waived if a statutory timeframe to determine your FOI application is not met.

Note:

The NHMRC accepts that scientific misconduct and scientific fraud are matters of public interest.

In determining where the balance of the public interest lies in respect of the release of any particular document, the NHMRC will also take account of any countervailing interests which militate against giving access to the document.

One basis on which the Freedom of Information Act 1982 provides for the waiver of fees and charges is where the giving of access to the document in question is in the general public interest or in the interests of a substantial section of the public.

In dealing with a request under the FOI Act for access to documents related to scientific misconduct and scientific fraud and in processing related requests for waiver of fees and charges, the NHMRC will take account of the level of public interest in a document, as well as any other reasons why waiver might be appropriate in the circumstances.

What you can expect from us

Once you have made an FOI application, we will tell you within 5 working days that we have received your application.  We will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your application.  

We will give you our decision within 30 calendar days unless that time has been extended.  If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 calendar days.  We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 calendar days if your application is complex.

If you disagree with our decision

When we have made a decision about your FOI application, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal 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 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 another officer of NHMRC.  We will advise you of our new decision within 30 calendar days of receiving your request.

There is no application fee for making an internal review application.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our decision on internal review within 60 calendar days of the date of decision (or 30 calendar 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 website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions.  More information is available on the OAIC’s 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.

Contact for further information

If you would like further information about making an FOI application, you can contact the FOI Unit via email foi@nhmrc.gov.au or phone (02) 6217 9333 - during normal working hours.

Page last updated on 19 April 2012