Agencies and their Documents

Agencies subject to freedom of information

You can make freedom of information applications to the following types of agencies in South Australia:

  • State Government departments and agencies
  • Ministers
  • Public hospitals and health units
  • Statutory authorities
  • Regulatory bodies
  • Local Councils
  • State universities

Freedom of information does not apply to private businesses, private doctors or health specialists, banks and other private financial institutions, and not for profit organisations.  If you want to access information from these types of bodies, you will need to contact them direct.

If you want to access documents from a Commonwealth government agency, or an interstate government agency, you will need to contact them direct as they have their own freedom of information legislation and process.

Some agencies are exempt from freedom of information and are listed in Schedule 2 to the Freedom of Information Act 1991 and the Freedom of Information (Exempt Agency) Regulations 2008.

Documents you can apply for under freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 1991 enables you to apply for access to any document in the possession of a State Government department or agency, Government Minister, Local Council or University in South Australia.  This includes paper based documents as well as other types of documents including:

  • computer files and databases
  • plans
  • photographs
  • videos, and
  • audio tapes.

Examples of the types of documents held by government agencies include:

  • school records
  • health records
  • welfare records
  • criminal records
  • minutes and agendas
  • policy documents
  • Cabinet documents
  • research materials, and
  • instruction and procedure manuals.

For further information about individual agencies and the types of documents they hold, each agency has an Information Statement published either on their website or published in their Annual Report.

Agency information statements

Every agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1991, except Government Ministers, is required to produce an information statement.

Information statements include:

  • the structure and functions of the agency
  • how the functions of the agency affect members of the public
  • the various types of documents held by the agency which are available for access, and
  • a description of how the public can obtain access or seek amendment to documents.

The purpose of the information statement is to provide people wanting to access information with a snapshot of the types of documents held by that agency, what that agency does, and how a person can access the information they require.

For further details on an individual agency's information statement either visit the agency's website or read their Annual Report.

Documents you may not get access to under freedom of information

While the aim of the Freedom of Information Act 1991 is to provide access to the maximum amount of information possible, a number of exemptions are necessary to ensure that other people's privacy is not breached or that the proper administration of Government is not adversely affected.

Examples of documents that you may be refused access to include:

  • documents that would lead to an unreasonable disclosure of another person's affairs
  • documents that contain trade secrets or information of commercial value
  • documents affecting law enforcement and public safety
  • documents subject to legal professional privilege or parliamentary privilege.

For further information, refer to Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

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