Overview

Under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in South Australia, you have the legal right to ask for:

  • access to documents held by state government agencies and ministers and local government councils
  • corrections to documents about you that are incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.

State Records of South Australia explains how you can apply for access or corrections to documents that are under FOI legislation. Most agencies and councils have an FOI officer who can help you with your request.

Not all documents can be accessed or changed under FOI. Some are exempt or subject to restrictions.

If an agency or council refuses you access or changes to a document, you can ask for their decision to be reviewed.

Access to Information - Ombudsman SA

Who can request a review?

Anyone who has applied for and received an FOI decision can request a review if they disagree with that decision.

In some cases, someone else may want an FOI decision to be reviewed. For example, if a requested document includes information about the private or business affairs of someone other than the applicant, that other person has the right to seek a review.

Requesting a review

First, send an application to the principal officer of the agency or council (such as the chief executive) asking for an internal review of the FOI decision. You need to apply within 30 days after the decision.

The agency or council may confirm, vary or reverse their original decision as a result of their review. It must be completed within 14 days.

If you don’t agree with the result, send Ombudsman SA a written request (by letter or email) for an external review of the decision. You must do this within 30 days after the internal review. We do not charge for an external review.

The result, called a ‘determination’, may confirm, vary or reverse the decision by the agency or council. We aim to complete a determination within four months of your request.

Apply for a Freedom of Information external review

Alternatively, you can request an external review by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Our external review process

  1. We notify the agency or council of your request for an external review and ask them to provide:
    • a report explaining their FOI decision
    • copies of the relevant documents.
  2. We may try to settle the matter between the parties.
  3. We may investigate the actions of the agency or council by, for example, inspecting their premises, interviewing staff and examining additional documents and records.
  4. We usually make a provisional determination and invite the parties to comment on it.
  5. We make a final determination and inform the parties of the reasons for it.

Review by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

If you disagree with Ombudsman SA’s determination on an FOI decision, you can request a further review by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

You have the option to ask SACAT to conduct an external review instead of Ombudsman SA. However, SACAT determinations are final. You cannot ask Ombudsman SA to conduct an external review after a SACAT determination.

Information for agencies and public officers

If an agency or council disagrees with an Ombudsman SA determination, they can apply to SACAT to review it, but only on a question of law.

Confidentiality

We may publish the determination of an external review if it is in the public interest to do so. The determination may include information that can identify you if it is the result of a review that you requested.