The Freedom of information Act 1982 (FOI Act) provides a legally enforceable right to access to government documents. It is an important mechanism for individuals to see what information about them is held on government files, and to seek to correct that information if they consider it is wrong or misleading. FOI enhances the transparency and accountability of policy making, administrative decision making and government service delivery. It recognises that information gathered by government, at public expense, is a national resource and should be available more widely to the public.
We make a range of information available for public access under our Information Publication Scheme and our FOI Disclosure Log. In addition, every person has a legally enforceable right to obtain access, on request, to a document of the NBA, other than an exempt document, under the FOI Act.
The NBA is also assessing ways to release documents outside of the FOI Act where appropriate. Data requests will be proactively considered by the NBA via an administrative access scheme and referred to a formal FOI process where appropriate or where preferred by a requester.
Right of access
Any person (including an organisation or company) has the right to apply for access to a document of an Agency. The applicant does not need to reside in Australia or be an Australian citizen. Where practicable the NBA will also accept requests made by a natural person using a pseudonym and from one person on behalf of another. Please note that identity of an applicant will be relevant when deciding if an exemption applies to a request for personal or business related information.
You can ask to see any document or part of a document that we hold. The right of access is to existing documents, rather than to information. It does not cover documents that are created after you make a request. A person’s right of access is not impacted by the reason for seeking the document/s. We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents, that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or documents subject to other exemptions set out in the FOI Act.
You also have to right to ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading.
If we decide that you cannot have access to a document you seek then you are also entitled to ask that a review be conducted of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.
Making an FOI request
Your request must:
- be in writing (email is sufficient – using the email address below);
- state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act;
- describe the documents you seek in enough detail to allow the decision-maker to identify them;
- provide an address for reply.
Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org or send your request to:
Freedom of Information
National Blood Authority
Locked Bag 8430
Canberra ACT 2601
If you are unsure how to make a request you can also contact email@example.com.
Evidence of identity for requests to access personal information
If you are seeking access to documents that contain your personal information, we may require evidence of your identity with your application. If you are seeking documents containing personal information on behalf of another person, both of you must provide evidence of your identities.
Acceptable identity documents include a passport or an Australian driver licence. Other identity documents may be accepted on a case by case basis. Any queries on suitable identity documents can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A certified true copy of these documents may be sent to us or scanned as an email attachment.
Requests made by an agent or representative for your personal information
If another party is requesting a document or documents on your behalf, we also require that you submit a signed letter of authorisation with your FOI application. The letter must contain specific authority to authorise the NBA to either send copies of documents to that person or consent for that person to inspect copies of documents containing your personal information.
Fees and charges
There is no application fee for an FOI request – initial, internal review or application for review by the Information Commissioner.
However, section 29 of the FOI Act authorises the NBA to impose a charge for providing access to a document. The charge must be assessed in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (Charges Regulations). FOI charges apply only to the NBA’s initial access decision for your FOI request. The imposition of a charge is discretionary. If the NBA considers that a charge should be levied we will inform you of that decision and provide you with an estimate of that charge and any deposit that is payable.
Common charges may include for search and retrieval ($15 per hour), decision making time (First five hours: Nil, Subsequent hours: $20 per hour) and the cost of postage (actual cost).
You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. You may need to explain your reasons and provide evidence.
Please note that no charge is payable where you seek access to a document that contains your own personal information.
Processing your FOI request
The FOI Act has strict requirements on the way that the NBA must process a request for access to documents. You can get further information on FOI Act and the processing requirements at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s site.
We will notify you within fourteen days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of the charges, if any, that apply to your request. We will give you our decision within thirty days unless that time has been extended in accordance with the FOI Act. If a document contains information about third parties, we will need to consult those parties and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another thirty days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to thirty days if your request is complex.
If you disagree with our decision
When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights. A summary of your review rights under the FOI Act can be found at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s website – FOI Fact Sheet 12 – Your rights of review.
Any complaints about the manner in which we have handled your request can be sent to email@example.com.
If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, or a subsequent complaint you make to the NBA, you can contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner who will investigate your complaint in accordance with Part VIIB of the FOI Act. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. The Ombudsman must consult with the Information Commissioner before deciding to investigate a complaint about a matter that is the subject of a completed investigation by the Information Commissioner, or that is or could be the subject of a complaint to the Commissioner and could be dealt with more appropriately or effectively by the Commissioner.