Freedom of Information

Reforms to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) and the passage of the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 introduced fundamental changes to the way information held by government is managed and accessed by members of the public.  The changes took effect from 1 November 2010, with the exception of the information publication scheme requirements, which commenced on 1 May 2011.

The clear intention of the FOI Act is to promote disclosure of information held by government. The new objects of the Act include:

  • give the Australian community access to information by requiring agencies to publish the information, and provide a right of access;
  • contribute to increased participation in government processes and increased scrutiny,  discussion and review of government activities;
  • increase recognition that information held by government is a national resource; and
  • promote public access to information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost.

Requirements for making a FOI request

A request for access must:

  • be in writing (and may be in email format);
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act;
  • provide enough information to enable the document(s) sought to be identified; and
  • give details of how notices under the FOI Act may be sent to you (for example, by providing an electronic address to which notices may be sent by electronic communication).

The request may be sent in any of the following:

post: Freedom of Information Coordinator
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
PO Box 967

FOI general enquiries: +61 2 6122 1601

Fees and charges

All application fees, including fees for internal review, have been abolished.  No costs will apply where a person requests access to their personal information.  If a statutory timeframe for processing a FOI request is not met, no charge will apply.

The FOI Act provides for other charges associated with the processing of the request. These charges may relate to the time spent searching for and retrieving relevant document(s), decision-making time, photocopying and other costs.  If lodging a FOI request, you will be notified as soon as possible of an estimate of the charges associated with processing your request.  Your request will not be processed until you respond to any such notification.

Restricted Information exemption

It is recommended that prior to lodging a FOI request, the applicant has an understanding of how the ATSB is required to perform its functions under the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act).  Section 12AA of the TSI Act states that the function of the ATSB is to improve transport safety through, among other things, independent investigations of transport accidents and incidents.  It clearly stated that it is not the purpose of ATSB investigations to apportion blame or provide a means for determining liability.

ATSB transport safety investigators exercise statutory powers delegated by the ATSB and the Chief Commissioner in accordance with the provisions of the TSI Act.  The TSI Act allows the ATSB to investigate transport safety matters in the aviation, marine and rail transport modes within the Australian Government's constitutional jurisdiction and to release transport safety information, including investigation reports that detail the findings and significant factors that led to a particular transport safety occurrence.

A comprehensive regime of provisions within the TSI Act is in place to maintain the confidentiality of, and legal protection for, a range of sensitive safety information obtained by ATSB investigators.

Therefore, it is important to note that significant amount of information gathered by the ATSB during the course of its investigations is defined as restricted information under section 3 of the TSI Act. Under subsections 60 (1), (2) and (3) of the TSI Act staff members (as defined by section 3 of the Act and covering the classes of persons working for the ATSB), Commissioners, Consultants and persons given access under section 62, are prohibited from copying or disclosing restricted information. Those subsections are 'secrecy provisions' for the purposes of section 38 of the FOI Act and access to such information is exempt from release under subparagraph 38(1)(b)(i).

ATSB transport safety reports are published on this website at and are freely available to the public.  However, these reports were published under section 25 of the TSI Act attracting the protection of section 27.  Section 27 of the TSI Act states that:
(1)    a report under section 25 is not admissible in evidence in civil or criminal proceedings.
(2)    Subsection (1) does not apply to a coronial inquiry.


FOI Disclosure Log:

Last update 26 July 2022