The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI) allows a person access to any document held by any Commonwealth government agency, unless the document, or part of it, falls into one of the exemptions listed in the legislation. Anyone can access a document whether or not she or he is involved in or affected by the information.
The Act applies to documents held by government agencies. The term document is broadly defined and includes any record of information [s 4(1)]. A document includes any copy, reproduction or duplicate but does not include library material maintained for any reference purpose or Cabinet notebooks [s 4(1)].
The Act does not apply to documents that are already available in a public register or to documents available for purchase by the public [s 12] (for example, annual reports or information on public registers).