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Freedom of Information

Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) requires each Australian Government agency to publish information about the way it is organised, its functions, the decision-making and other powers that affect the public, arrangements for public participation in the work of the agency, and the categories of documents that are held by the agency and how the public can obtain access to them.

Information about the structure of Defence can be found in Chapter One of this report. The remainder of the information required to be published in the annual report is set out below.

In addition to the requirements of the FOI Act, other less formal avenues exist for gaining access to information from Defence. Examples of information available from Defence are included later in this section. Contact points for inquiries are located in all states and territories and can be found in current telephone directories under the Department of Defence.

Freedom of Information Procedures and Contact Points

A request for access to documents under the FOI Act must be made in writing and provide such information concerning the documents as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of Defence to identify them. The request has to be accompanied by a $30 application fee and should include a telephone number and a return address at which the applicant can be contacted. In some cases, a fee may not be required or may be remitted by the department. Requests may be sent by post or delivered to an officer of the department at the address of the central office (in Canberra, see below), or any regional office of the department specified in a current telephone directory. The following address is preferable:

Freedom of Information Directorate
The Defence Legal Service
RG Casey Building (RGC-2-058)
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Advice about making a request under the FOI Act may be obtained by telephoning the directorate on (02) 6266 8860 or (02) 6266 8855, by facsimile on (02) 6266 8857 or by email to FOI.enquiries@defence.gov.au . Applicants seeking access to documents may be liable to pay charges at rates prescribed by the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations.

Authorised Freedom of Information Decision Makers

The authority to disclose documents or to refuse requests for access to documents is held widely throughout Defence and the ADF at director level (Executive Level 2 and Colonel or equivalent rank) and above.

Authority to make decisions of other kinds under the Freedom of Information legislation, eg the power to impose charges on applicants, has also been delegated to appropriate officers. Details can be obtained from the Freedom of Information Directorate, see address and contact numbers above.

Decision-Making and Other Powers Affecting Members of the Public

It should be noted that many powers invested in the specific positions described in this section may be delegated formally to subordinate officers.

Commander Australian Theatre

May make decisions relating to the planning and conduct of campaigns, operations and other activities to achieve national objectives within Australia and overseas; may make decisions regarding the planning and conduct of combined and joint training activities and major exercises at the operational and tactical levels; and oversees the provision of Defence assistance to the civil community at the operational level.

Chief of Navy, Chief of Army and Chief of Air Force

May exercise powers to prescribe conditions for entry or re-entry, however described (eg appointment, re-appointment, recruitment, enlistment, re-enlistment, engagement, re-engagement), to their respective Service; place names of officers and former officers on the retired list; grant to officers on the retired list military title or rank and authorise such persons to wear uniform and insignia; determine appointments in respect of cadets; approve the provision of Defence assistance to the civil community; authorise the use of words and letters protected under the Defence (Prohibited Words and Letters) Regulations; approve the wearing, manufacture or supply of protected Service emblems, crests and flags; determine who should be employed, reside or stay in a Service establishment; approve the possession, sale, supply and consumption of intoxicating liquor at gatherings of Service members and their guests; declare an area in or adjacent to Australia to be a firing or practice area; and grant licences to trade in an establishment of their respective Service.

Maritime Commander Australia

May make decisions relating to public access to naval ships and military (Navy) areas; may provide assistance to civilian authorities in disaster relief or rescue situations; may make public comment in relation to visiting naval forces or ships; convenes courts martial which may involve the summoning of civilian witnesses; and provides Defence assistance to the civil community when not managed by the commanding officer of the area.

Commander Australian Navy Systems Command

May make decisions relating to public access to naval establishments and military (Navy) areas; may provide assistance to civilian authorities in disaster relief or rescue situations; may make public comment in relation to visiting naval forces or ships; convenes Navy courts martial which may involve the summoning of civilian witnesses; and provides Defence assistance to the civil community when not managed by the commanding officer of the area.

Director-General Navy Personnel and Training

May authorise the release of serving and former Navy members' military records.

Land Commander Australia

May make decisions relating to public access to military (Army) areas; select private, state or Commonwealth property for training exercises; provide Defence assistance to the civil community; may release Army personnel information; may approve local hire or lease of Army property; and may impose constraints on Army personnel which impinge on public enterprise.

Commander Training Command - Army

May authorise the provision of Defence assistance to the civil community by any of the schools, colleges or training establishments within the Command; and may release information from the records of any member and ex-member who has undergone training by the Command.

Air Commander Australia

May summon civilian witnesses to attend Air Force courts martial; and provide Defence assistance to the civil community.

Chief Finance Officer

May provide instructions to legal providers on the Defence Legal Panel on the settlement of claims against the Commonwealth; declare surplus land, buildings, or land and buildings for disposal; approve exemptions and variations to application of interest on debt repayments; determine rates and charges for all supplies and services provided by Defence; delegate authority to waive the full cost recovery for supplies and services provided by Defence; write off public money; delegate authority to issue a drawing right to make a payment of public money for a specific purpose and/or request the debiting of an amount against a particular appropriation and delegate authority to revoke or amend a drawing right; enter into agreements with any bank for the receipt, custody, payment or transmission of public money, or for other matters relating to the conduct of the Australian Government's banking business; and open and maintain official bank accounts in accordance with agreements under Section 9 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and/or request a local bank to provide an encashment facility.

Director Defence Force Psychology Organisation

May allow the release of information from individual psychological records.

Director-General Career Management Policy

May authorise the release of serving and former members' honours and awards histories.

Director-General Defence Health Service

May authorise the release of serving and former members' medical and dental records.

Director Social Work and Client Services

May authorise the release of individuals' confidential counselling records to those individuals concerned.

Head Public Affairs and Corporate Communication

Has the authority to issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders; and recommend source selection in relation to contracts for the provision of public affairs and corporate communication services for Defence.

Under Secretary Defence Materiel

May determine methods of procurement and approve contracts for major capital equipment and through-life support requirements.

Commander Joint Logistics

May issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; and evaluate tenders and recommend source selection.

Heads of Maritime Systems, Land Systems, Aerospace Systems, Electronic Systems, Management Information Systems and Airborne Surveillance and Control Divisions

May issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders; and recommend source selection for major and minor capital equipment. In specific cases, they have the authority to determine the method of procurement and approve major and minor capital equipment contracts.

Head Industry Division

May issue approvals for the export of certain defence equipment and goods with dual civil and military applications; and accept tenders and recommendations about quotations for the purchase of supplies and services.

Head National Operations Division

May provide Defence assistance to the civil community; control public access to military areas; approve the loan, hire or purchase of defence stores and equipment and, in defined cases, determine the method of procurement; issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders and recommend or approve sourcing; approve contracts and the purchase of supplies and services; and grant remission of fees and impose charges payable under the freedom of information legislation.

In accordance with an arrangement made between Defence and the National Archives of Australia pursuant to section 35 of the Archives Act 1983, the Director Classified Historical Records Review provides advice to the Director-General National Archives of Australia and the Director of Australian War Memorial specifying which matter, if any, contained in Defence historical records is considered to be exempt under sections 33(1)(a) and (b) of the Act.

Head Infrastructure Division

May determine the method of procurement; issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders; recommend source selection; approve contracts for capital facilities, property transactions, and the purchase of services; and has the responsibility for environmental issues within Defence.

Head Infrastructure has the delegated authority for implementation of Defence (Areas Control) Regulations which are made under the Defence Act 1903 and to give the legal basis for restrictions to be placed by Defence on the height of buildings and other structures and introduced objects, such as trees, in the vicinity of Defence airfields and related facilities.

Head Information Systems

May determine the method of procurement; issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders; recommend source selection; and approve contracts.

Chief Information Officer

May determine the method of procurement; issue invitations to register interest and requests for tender; evaluate tenders; recommend source selection; and approve contracts.

Arrangements for Outside Participation

Australian Defence Human Research Ethics Committee

The Committee's mission is to promote and encourage ethical health research in the military context, with responsibility for the review and monitoring of all human research in Defence. It is structured in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council's national statement on ethical conduct in research involving human participants and comprises, at the minimum, the following:

Citizens in Support of Reserve Forces (Trust) Fund

The Fund was established through a trust deed. In recent times, the work of the trust has been almost exclusively to provide financial support for the Prince of Wales Award. There are four external trustees.

Commercial Support Consultative Forum

This is a forum between Defence, industry and unions for the discussion of ideas and the cooperative resolution of issues related to the broader Defence commercial support activities, including initiatives such as market testing and private financing.

Defence Families Association

The Association was established in 1987 with the purpose of improving the quality of life for Service families by providing them with a forum for expressing their views, for reporting and making recommendations to the Chief of the Defence Force, and for influencing policy affecting Service families.

Defence Health Consultative Group

The role of the Group is to establish, at a senior level, formal liaison between Defence and appropriate civilian authorities and to provide advice on major professional health matters of relevance to Defence. The group comprises the Surgeon General ADF, Director-General Defence Health Service and representatives from other departments and professional bodies, including the Australian Medical and Dental Associations and the Royal College of Nursing Australia.

Defence Reserves Support Council

The Council aims to promote the benefits of Reserve service to the community. As well as spreading the word informally about Reserve service, it sponsors a number of specific activities to encourage business support.

Environmental Advisory Committees

These Committees provide advice on environmental matters relating to Defence areas including Shoalwater Bay Training Area (Qld); Garden Island (WA); Greenbank Training Area and Wide Bay Training Area (Qld); and Mount Bundy Training Area and Bradshaw Field Training Area (NT). The Committees consist of representatives from Defence, the local community and business organisations.

National Workplace Relations Committee

The Committee, established under the Defence Employees Certified Agreement 2000-01, and reaffirmed under the Defence Employees Certified Agreement 2002-03, continues to deal with a wide range of employment matters affecting Defence civilian employees. It involves representatives of departmental employees who may be union members.

Royal Australian Air Force Veterans Trust

The Trust's purpose is to provide residences so that former members of the RAAF and their dependants in circumstances of need can be accommodated and supported. There are three external members of the trust with previous Air Force service or private industry experience.

Woomera Consultative Committee

The Committee advises Defence on matters relating to the management of Woomera (SA) and includes representatives from Defence and the Woomera Board, which comprises appointed and elected residents of Woomera.

Categories of Documents Maintained

Documents Available as Part of a Public Register and Subject to a Fee or Other Charge

Documents Available for Purchase by the Public

Documents Free of Charge to the Public upon Request

Defence holds a wide range of such material including, for instance, information on or in the nature of:

Electronic Documents

Defence's internet homepage can be found at http://www.defence.gov.au/. The site contains material of defence interest to the general public, including departmental media releases and speeches, statutory reports and Service-specific information. Departmental press releases are available by email from the press release service by subscription. Photos of a defence nature are also freely available from the image gallery on site. Ministerial press releases and speeches are linked to the above website.

Other Documents

The department maintains records in various forms and locations relating to the functions of Defence. Records are retained for varying periods depending on their administrative and historical value and are disposed of in accordance with standards and practices approved by the National Archives of Australia. Some particular categories of documents held are:

Facilities for Accessing Documents

The following areas within Defence maintain access points at which information about their activities is available:

Defence Science and Technology Organisation
Manager, Defence Science Communications
Defence Science and Technology Organisation
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6265 7914

Public Affairs and Corporate Communication Division
Director General Communication and Public Affairs
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6265 2999

Defence Publishing
Director, Defence Publishing Service
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6266 2056

Hydrographic Office
Locked Bag 8801
WOLLONGONG NSW 2500
Tel: (02) 4221 8612