1. Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides the public with a legal right to seek access to documents held by the government.
Access to documents is limited only by exemptions that protect essential public interests and the private and business affairs of people about whom departments and statutory authorities hold information.
Members of the public seeking access to documents that may be held by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) should lodge a formal FOI request.
2. Making a Freedom of Information request
For the APVMA to process your request as quickly as possible, at the lowest possible cost, your request must:
- be made in writing
- state that you are seeking information in accordance with the FOI Act
- provide enough information for the APVMA to clearly identify the scope of your request, the time periods your request falls under and the category of documents sought, i.e. reports, minutes, emails etc.
- specify an address (either email or physical) so the APVMA can correspond with you about your request.
You may also wish to provide a phone number to make it easier for us to consult with you about your request.
FOI requests should be sent to:
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
GPO Box 3262
Sydney NSW 2001
Employees and former employees
The APVMA has established procedures to allow employees or former employees access to their own personnel records. If you wish to see your own personnel records, you must first use those procedures.
If you are dissatisfied with the result of using those procedures or you are not notified within 30 days of the outcome of your request to access your records, you may then make a request under the FOI Act.
To ask for a copy of the Request for Access to Personnel Records policy, or if you wish to seek access to your own personnel records, contact the FOI Team at FOI@apvma.gov.au.
Making an FOI request to a minister
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and other portfolio ministers are separate entities to the APVMA for the purposes of the FOI Act.
FOI requests for documents in the possession of a minister must be made by writing directly to the relevant minister.
The APVMA administers systems for ministerial correspondence and briefings. Requests for these types of documents should be directed to the APVMA rather than the ministers’ offices.
3. Time for processing a request to the APVMA
We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We may also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended.
4. Material ordinarily considered outside the scope of a request
Unless you specifically request them, we will understand that your request does not include the following types of information:
- Identifying information about individuals and businesses that helps to avoid third-party consultation (e.g. names, signatures, direct contact numbers, email addresses and personal addresses).
- Duplicates of documents.
- Draft documents.
- Entire documents that are publicly available.
- Names, signatures and contact information of officers below SES level or equivalent (SES means departmental officers in the Senior Executive Service at the level of branch head and above).
There is no application fee for an FOI request. There are no processing charges for requests for access, correction or amendment to documents containing your personal information only. It is the APVMA's policy to apply processing charges to other requests unless there is a reason not to. Where charges are applicable, we will notify you of the estimated charge, how it is calculated and options for payment or to contend charges should be waived or reduced. The most common charges are listed in Table 1.
|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 5 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 agency 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 you contend charges should be waived or reduced, the APVMA will consider your contention and provide you with a decision on the application of charges.
Payment of charges can be made through direct deposit, by credit card, or cheques or money orders made payable to the Collector of Public Money. These details will be provided to you with charges notices.
6. Contacts and further information
Please contact the FOI Team if you would like further information.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides useful information about FOI processes more generally.