Illing and Department of Communities (310192)

Application number:
Decision date:
Tuesday, Mar 01, 2011

Section 25(3), (4) & (5) FOI Act – How applications for access are made

Section 28A(1) FOI Act – Refusal of access—document nonexistent or unlocatable

Section 44(1) FOI Act – Matters affecting personal affairs


The applicant applied to the Department of Communities (Department) for access to ‘all “records of interview” relating to DOCS demand for return of monies overpaid to me’.


Following an internal review, the Department released 28 pages in full and parts of 42 pages. The Department considered that the rest of the information on the 42 pages was exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act).


On external review, the applicant sought access to:


·       the rest of the information on the 42 pages partially released to him (42 pages)

·       records of interview of Departmental officers by the Ombudsman, arising as a result of a complaint made by the applicant to the Ombudsman (Ombudsman’s ROI); and

·       the minutes of two meetings involving the Department, the applicant and his solicitor (minutes).


After carefully considering all the submissions and evidence, Assistant Information Commissioner Corby was satisfied that:


·       the Ombudsman’s ROI do not exist and the Department is entitled to refuse access to these documents under section 28A(1) of the FOI Act

·       given section 25(5) of the FOI Act, the applicant is not entitled to an external review regarding the information on two of the 42 pages, as they comprise post-application documents

·       in relation to information on the remaining 40 of the 42 pages, the applicant and Department impliedly agreed to expansion of the scope of the applicant’s application to include the information—however, it is exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the FOI Act; and

·       the minutes are outside the scope of both the initial terms of the applicant’s application and the expanded form of that application.