Freedom of Information Making an FOI Request

The objectives of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are to give the Australian community access to information held by the Government of the Commonwealth by:

  • requiring agencies to publish the information; and
  • providing for a right of access to documents.

This page sets out the Reserve Bank of Australia's practices concerning requests for access to information held by the Reserve Bank.

Documents Available Outside the FOI Act

If you are an individual, you can obtain most personal information we hold about you without following a formal process under the FOI Act. Sometimes that will not be possible, but if that is the case we will tell you why. Requests for personal information can be made to the Bank's Privacy Officer using the contact details below.

Phone +61 2 9551 8111
Fax +61 2 9551 8000
Postal Address The Privacy Officer
Reserve Bank of Australia
GPO Box 3947
SYDNEY NSW 2001
AUSTRALIA
Email privacy@rba.gov.au

The Reserve Bank publishes a large amount of material that is available free of charge and without an FOI request. This includes publications, speeches, statistics and media releases. Search our website before you make an FOI request because the material you are looking for may already be available.

Documents Not Available Under the FOI Act

The Reserve Bank is exempt from the FOI Act in relation to documents in respect of its banking operations (including individual open market operations and foreign exchange dealings) and in respect of exchange control matters.

The Reserve Bank Act 1959 contains secrecy provisions that relate to the disclosure of ‘protected information’ and documents containing ‘protected information’.

‘Protected information’ includes information that:

  • is disclosed or obtained under, or for the purposes of, various statutory provisions including the Reserve Bank Act 1959, the Banking Act 1959, the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998, the Payment Systems and Netting Act 1998 and Part 7.3 of the Corporations Act 2001; and
  • relates to the affairs of a financial institution, a body corporate that has at any time been, or is, related to a financial institution that is a body corporate or a person who is, has been, or proposes to be, a customer of a financial institution.

The Reserve Bank is also bound by similar secrecy provisions in the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority Act 1998 when it is handling ‘protected information’ or ‘protected documents’ (as defined in that Act) it receives from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority.

A document that contains ‘protected information’ within the meaning given in either the Reserve Bank Act 1959 or the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority Act 1998 is exempt from disclosure by the Reserve Bank under the FOI Act if disclosure of that document is prohibited under the relevant secrecy provisions.

Other exemptions apply under the FOI Act but they are not specific to the Reserve Bank. These exemptions cover documents including (but not limited to) those containing material obtained in confidence, those containing trade secrets or information with a commercial value that could be destroyed or diminished by disclosure and those subject to legal professional privilege.

How to Make an FOI Request

Members of the public seeking access to documents held by the Reserve Bank of Australia should lodge a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request with the Bank. Before doing so, you should check the information we have published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already available.

Your request must:

  • be in writing;
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act;
  • provide sufficient information about the document(s) sought to assist the Bank to identify them;
  • provide an address for reply.

You can send your FOI request to the Reserve Bank by one of the following means:

By Post The FOI Officer
Reserve Bank of Australia
GPO Box 3947
SYDNEY NSW 2001
AUSTRALIA
By Email foi@rba.gov.au
By Fax +61 2 9551 8041

Requests made by a third party on your behalf

If you ask a third party to make an FOI request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written authority to send copies of documents to you care of that person.

Enquiries

If you require assistance with your request, please direct your enquiries to the FOI Officer of the Reserve Bank:

Phone +61 2 9551 9710
Postal Address The FOI Officer
Reserve Bank of Australia
GPO Box 3947
SYDNEY NSW 2001
AUSTRALIA
Email foi@rba.gov.au

Fees and Charges

There is no application fee for an FOI request.

There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, charges may apply to other requests. As provided for by legislation (Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982) the most common charges are:

Activity Item Charge
Search and retrieval – time we spend searching for or retrieving a document(s). $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: $20.00 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 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, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25 per cent deposit before we process your request.

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.

What You Can Expect from the Bank

We will advise you within 14 days of our receipt of your request that we have received it. We will also give you an estimate of any charges that apply to your request.

We will give you our decision within 30 days of your request unless that time has been extended or a charge is payable (in which case the time for our response will be extended by a period equal to the period between us notifying you of the charge and you paying it). 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. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.

If You Disagree with the Bank's Decision

When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you response 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.

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 the Bank. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request for review.

Information Commissioner Review

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

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.

If you are unhappy with elements of the Bank's IPS or release of information more generally, you can complain in the first instance to the Bank using the FOI contact details contained on this website.

If you are not satisfied with the Bank's response to your complaint, you have further rights to complain to the Australian Information Commissioner, who may investigate our actions.

More Information

If you require more information, please contact the FOI Officer of the Bank:

Phone +61 2 9551 9710
Postal Address The FOI Officer
Reserve Bank of Australia
GPO Box 3947
SYDNEY NSW 2001
AUSTRALIA
Email foi@rba.gov.au

Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained from our FOI disclosure log page. Information about our Information Publication Scheme is published on this website.