How do I apply for government documents?

The Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld)(RTI Act)and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld)(IP Act)give you the right to apply for access to documents from Queensland government departments, Ministers, local councils, public hospitals, public universities and statutory bodies. These are called "the agency" in this Information Sheet.

This Information Sheet will help you make an application to an agency under the RTI Act or IP Act.1 If you want documents from more than one agency, you will need to make a separate application to each agency.

Will I get the information I want?

It depends on what you are applying for. You will usually get access to your own information, but in most cases you will not be given access to someone else’s personal information, the name of someone who made a complaint about you, or information about an active investigation. This is because it is contrary to the public interest to release that information.

These information sheets explain more: What is Exempt Information and What is the public interest - a guide for applicants.

The application form

You need to fill out the application form to make an application under the RTI Act or IP Act. The same application form is used for both RTI Act and IP Act applications. You can download it from www.rti.qld.gov.au. The link to the form can be found on the right hand side, towards the bottom of the page.

Alternatively, you can contact the agency or the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)2 to ask for an application form to be posted or emailed to you.

Applying to a department

If you are applying to a Queensland government department, you can use the online form3. It can only be used for applications to departments. For all other agencies, you must use the PDF version of the form.

How to complete the application form

The black triangles on the form indicate which sections must be completed.

Contact details

This section is where you enter your personal details such as name, email, postal address and preferred method of contact. If someone is acting on your behalf (they are called your agent) then the agent’s details should be entered here.

Question 1: Application type?

In this section you need to tick whichever box most closely describes the type of documents you are seeking.

picture of question 1 of the approved RTI and IP application form, showing options a, b, and c. Option a is for applications that will only include documents that contain your personal information,  Option c is for applications that will have no documents containing your personal information and Option b is for applications that will be a mix of personal and non-personal documents. Option a will be an IP applications; Options b and c must be made under the RTI Act.

If you are only applying for documents which contain your personal information (or information of the person on whose behalf the application is being made; see How to help someone make an access application for more information) then select “a” under Question 1 on the application form.

If you are applying for some documents which do not contain your personal information (even if some other documents will) then the application must be dealt with under the RTI Act.  Select “b” under Question 1on the application form.

If none of the documents you are applying for contain your personal information then the application must be dealt with under the RTI Act. Select “c” under Question 1on the application form.

For more guidance see the Information Sheet: What is personal information?.

Application fee and processing charges

There is no application fee or processing charges for applications made under the IP Act.

If you want to access any documents which do not contain your personal information, your application must be made under the RTI Act (see above). There is an application fee of $51.70 for all RTI Act applications and possible processing charges. The application fee cannot be waived.

If you have questions about how to pay the application fee, please contact the agency you are applying to. You can find a list of RTI and IP agency contacts for departments on the RTI website.4 If the agency is not a department then refer to their website to locate contact details for the RTI Unit. If you cannot find the agency’s contact details, the OIC Enquiries Service may be able to assist you.

See the Information Sheets: Fees and Charges and Applying for financial hardship as an individual for more information about fees and charges in relation to your application.

Question 2: On behalf of the applicant?

If you are making the application for yourself, select “no”.

If someone is acting as your agent, they should select “yes” and enter your name at Question 2.

Note

If the documents will contain your personal information then there are additional evidence of identity and evidence of authority requirements for the agent.

For more guidance see How to help someone make an access application.

Question 3-4: Benefit of another person?

If you are applying under the IP Act you can ignore these questions.

If you are applying under the RTI Act you must answer them, either yes or no. If you are seeking access for the use or benefit of another person, company, or body then you must specify this at questions 3-4. For example, a parent applying for information about a school which they intend to provide to the Parents & Citizens Association would tick yes at question 3 and write the name of the P&C at question 4.

Question 5: Agency?

Write the name of the Queensland government agency or Minister you are applying to in this section (for example, Queensland Police Service, your local council, Metro North Hospital and Health Service).

If you want to apply to more than one agency you must fill out a separate application form for each agency.

Question 6: Which documents?

This section is where you write down what documents you are applying for. The decision maker who will process your application is unlikely to have any knowledge of your interactions with the agency, so you must give them the information they need to conduct searches for the documents you seek. Be as specific as possible, because it will help the decision maker find all of the documents.

It is important to remember you can only apply for documents that already exist. You can’t ask questions or ask for documents to be created for you.

If your application is too big, there is a chance the agency will not be able to process it. They will discuss this with you if this occurs.

The questions at 6(b)-6(f) may not be relevant to your application, but if they are, answering them will help the agency find the documents. If you do not have this information, or if they are not relevant, you can leave them blank.

Evidence of identity

If you are applying for any documents which contain your personal information (for example, your name) then you must provide evidence of your identity with the application form.5 Examples of evidence of identity include:

  • a passport
  • a copy of a birth certificate or extract
  • a driver licence
  • a statutory declaration from an individual who has known the person for at least one year

If you are providing a photocopy of your ID, it must be certified as a correct copy of the original by a Justice of the Peace (JP), Commissioner for Declarations, lawyer or Notary Public.

Applicants who are incarcerated have different ID requirements. These are outlined in Applying while incarcerated in Queensland.

If an agent is acting for you and any of the documents being applied for will contain your personal information, then the agent must also provide:

  • evidence of their own identity (the same requirements as the applicant’s evidence of identity); and
  • proof of authority to act as your agent.
Note

Some agencies allow you to email or fax them a copy of your certified ID. If not, you will need to post the copy to them. If you are using the online form you must send your certified ID separately, as it does not allow you to upload it.

If someone is applying for you or helping you apply, they can refer to How to help someone make an access application.

Contact from the agency

Some agencies will send you an acknowledgement letter when your application is received, however this is not a requirement and you may not receive one.

If you do not hear from the agency and would like to confirm your application was received, or you have any questions about your application, you can contact the RTI Unit at the agency directly.

Current as at: November 27, 2020