Access to information

Requests for information under freedom of information (FOI) are a process governed by the Northern Territory’s Information Act 2002 (the Act). The Act provides the community with access to government information, including personal information, limited only in circumstances where the disclosure of particular information would be contrary to the public interest.

Under the Act, you may apply to:

  • access government (including personal) information
  • correct your personal information
  • seek an internal review of a decision made under the Act
  • seek an external review of an internal review decision
  • have an application or processing fee waived.

It is important to note that the Act does not apply to information that is publicly available.

The Department of the Attorney-General and Justice has an extensive collection of publications available online, including annual reports, and it is recommended that you check the publications page before lodging your application.

Government (including personal) information

Government information includes records held by or on behalf of a Northern Territory public sector organisation, including the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice (the department). Personal information is government information that discloses a person’s identity or from which a person’s identity is reasonably ascertainable. However, this does not extend to a public servant acting in their official capacity where no other personal information is disclosed about them.

Government (including personal) information includes, but is not limited to, paper records, photographs, notes, electronic records including computer records, phone records (text messages, call records, photographs and video), closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, audiotapes, videotapes and compact discs. Government information includes personal information about people, and information about businesses.

Government information does not include the compilation of existing government records to form new information (such as the production of statistics from government records) where that information has not yet already been compiled.

If you are applying for non-personal government information, or a combination of your personal and non-personal government information, you will need to pay an application fee of $30. Processing fees may also apply. Application forms can be found here.

Correcting personal information

The Information Act stipulates that everyone has the right to correct personal information held about them by public sector organisations. If you believe that the department holds personal information about you that is incorrect, incomplete or out of date, you can apply to have it corrected. Application forms for correcting information are available here

Seeking review of a decision

If you are dissatisfied with a decision made by the department regarding your Information Act request, you can ask for a review of that decision by the department. You must seek an internal review within 30 days of receiving the initial decision. An internal review application form is available here, or you can simply send us an email asking for an internal review and the reason/s why.

If you are dissatisfied with the internal review decision, you have 90 days to make a written complaint to the Information Commissioner. For more information about making a complaint, please visit the Information Commissioner’s website.

Application to waive fee for application

Under the Act, the department may waive or reduce the application or processing fees in certain circumstances (for example poverty).

If you would like to have the fees reduced or waived, you will need to outline your circumstances and the reason/s why. An application form is available here.

If you need to arrange a payment plan for your application and/or processing fees, you must organise this with the department. If the department does not hear from you, the application will be considered to be withdrawn.

The following information will assist you with your FOI application:

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How to lodge an application

Applications must be made in writing. To assist you with lodging an application, relevant forms can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website. Your application should include your name, an address (physical and/or email address) to forward correspondence to and sufficient details to identify the information that you wish to access.

Before accepting your application, an Information Officer must be satisfied with your identity. It is preferred that you provide a certified copy of your photographic identification (ID) with your completed application form. Your photo ID should contain your name, address and date of birth. A drivers licence or passport is satisfactory ID.

If you are applying for information on behalf of another person, you will need to provide evidence of this, e.g. an authority to act or a signed consent form.

Where to lodge an application

Please post or email the completed application form, a copy of your ID and other relevant additional records to:

Freedom of Information
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer
Information Coordinator
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Telephone: (08) 8935 7426

When the Information Coordinator has received the complete application and application fee, (if applicable), your application will be provided to the relevant Information Officer for acknowledgment and processing.

How long will it take?

In most circumstances, you will receive a notice of decision regarding access to the information sought (whether it will released in full, partially released or fully exempted under the Act) within 30 days. However, if the Information Officer needs more time to respond to your application, a written notice of an extension will be sent to you outlining the reason/s why more time is needed and a new date as to when you should receive a response.  Additionally, you may be contacted to clarify your request or to narrow the scope of the information you have asked for, to allow for efficient processing to proceed.

All Action Officers conducting searches are aware that section 147(1) of the  Act makes it an offence to improperly conceal or destroy information to prevent it being appraised under Part 4 for release.

Decision and Review

The Information Officer must send you a decision letter outlining the reasons for their decision about your request for information. The department must provide you with access to the information unless one or more of the specific refusal reasons set out in the Information Act apply.

These reasons can include:

  • the information is already publicly available
  • it is not in the public interest to do so and/or
  • the information is subject to an exemption.

If the Information Officer decides not to release information to you, they must explain why it is not in the public interest to release the information in their decision letter.

If you disagree with or are aggrieved by the decision, you can seek an internal review of the decision under section 38 of the Information Act.

Application and processing fees

Fees and charges for access to information applications processed under the Information Act 2002 are outlined in the Information Regulations 2003.

More information about fees and charges for freedom of information applications is available on the Office of the Information Commissioner’s website

You can also contact the Information Coordinator if you would like more information about fees and charges. Information about how to pay is set out below.

Credit card payments

To pay by credit card, you should contact your nearest Receiver of Territory Monies (RTM).

After you have paid you will receive a receipt of payment from the RTM which you need to send to the Information Coordinator as proof of payment.

Cheque or Money Order

If you want to pay by cheque or money order, you should post the cheque or money order (payable to the Receiver of Territory Monies) to:

ATTENTION: Information Coordinator
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722

Payments by Prisoners

Northern Territory Correctional Services (NTCS) have a separate process for payment of information access requests made by prisoners, where the information requested is government information.

Prisoners are provided with a money deduction form that both they and the Prison Officer sign to have the money deducted from their account for the information they are requesting.

The money deduction form is then given to the relevant correctional centre finance office for processing.

All prisoners, just like the general public, can request a waiver of fees for their application. Each request for a waiver is considered and responded to with the applicant’s circumstances and reasons taken into account. Many prisoners choose to use the Administrative Access Scheme to access their personal information instead of making an application under the Act. The Administrative Access Scheme is often quicker.

What does the department do?

Legal Services

Correctional Services

Court and Tribunal Support Services

Director of Public Prosecutions

Independent Offices

Regulatory Services

Corporate and Governance

  • Corporate and Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Financial Services
  • Contracts and Procurement
  • Corporate Communications
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Records Management
  • Infrastructure and Facilities Management
  • Audit Services

Not all of the information in these divisions is able to be accessed through the FOI process. For example, the Act does not apply to a court or tribunal in relation to its judicial or decision-making functions. If you are not sure about the location of the information you are seeking, then contact the Information Coordinator (Administrative Officer Level 5) who will assist you:

Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer
Information Coordinator
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Telephone: (08) 8935 7426

Information Privacy Principles

Information about your privacy and the information privacy principles is available from the Office of the Information Commissioner’s website:

They may otherwise be found in Schedule 2 at the back of the Information Act as referred to in section 65(1).

If you think that the department has breached your privacy or you have a general enquiry or complaint about privacy, you can contact:

Information Privacy Breach
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer
Information Coordinator
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
PO Box 1722
Telephone: (08) 8935 7426

Administrative Access Scheme

An Administrative Access Scheme is a system for the release of information by means other than a formal access application under the Information Act. All applications must be made in writing. Your application should include your name and contact details to forward correspondence to and sufficient details to identify the information that you wish to access.

Types of documents that may be suitable for administrative release include those:

  • provided to the agency by the person seeking access to them;
  • provided by the agency to the person seeking access to them;
  • which are publicly available; and
  • which are routinely made available by the agency.

Proof of identity from the individual, and/or proof of office held by a person requesting their business information, is still required when requesting administrative release of their own information.

The cost of the release of the information is at the discretion of the Information Officer.

Where it is decided by the relevant Information Officer that information cannot be released under this scheme, the person requesting it should be advised that they can apply for access under the FOI process.

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Last updated: 26 June 2020

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