How to: Request access to documents about me from the NDIS

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This fact sheet was last reviewed on 10/08/2023. Please note that the law and practices relating to NDIS appeals change frequently. The fact sheet provides general information and suggestions only. The fact sheet does not provide legal advice, and might not apply to your circumstances. If you need legal advice, you can find an advocate or a lawyer to help you using the links below at ‘Getting your own advice’.


If you are an NDIS participant, the NDIA will have documents about you. It can be helpful to get a copy of these documents when you are requesting a review of a decision the NDIA has made. 

This page explains your right to get documents from the NDIA, and how to request a copy of those documents.

What kind of documents about me could the NDIA have?

The NDIA might have documents about you that include:

  • Forms you have filled out and sent to the NDIA, such as:
    • “Access Request” form to become an NDIS participant
    • “Home and Living Supports Request” form, to ask for Home and Living supports like Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
    • “Change of Circumstances” form
    • “Request for a review of a decision” form
  • Evidence and reports that you have given the NDIA
  • Emails and letters between you and the NDIA
  • Complaints you have made to the NDIA
  • Internal notes made by the NDIA about how they have dealt with you
  • The NDIA’s reasons for making decisions about you
  • Internal advice by different NDIA teams about how other NDIA staff should deal with your case

How do I request my documents from the NDIA?

There are 2 ways you can ask for copies of your documents from the NDIA. These are called:

1. A Participant Information Access (PIA) request

2. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request

They are slightly different, and can be used for different things.

Making a Participant Information Access (PIA) request for my documents

A PIA request is a way for NDIS participants (and people who have applied to be participants) to get copies of basic documents. Here are some important things about PIA requests:

  • It is free to make a PIA request
  • You can make a PIA request using the NDIA’s online form, by emailing information.access@ndis.gov.au or by calling 1800 800 110.
  • Your PIA request needs to include:
    • Your full name
    • Your date of birth
    • Your address
    • Your NDIS reference number
    • What documents you want copies of
    • If you’re making the PIA request on behalf of somebody else (to get their documents), evidence that shows the person wants you to make the request (eg, the NDIS consent form).
  • You can only get certain documents through a PIA request: About your request to access the NDIS, you can ask for:
    • Your Access Request Form
    • Evidence of Disability
    • Supporting Evidence Form(s)
    • Access Decision made about you
    • The reasons for that Access Decision
  •  About an NDIS plan that has been approved for you, you can ask for:
    • The NDIS plan
    • Any information the NDIA collected at your planning meeting
    • Assessments, information and evidence the NDIA used to assess what supports should be funded in your plan
    • The reasons for your plan or plan reassessment decision
    • Any medical information and reports you have given to the NDIA
  • The NDIA says it will try to give you any documents you ask for in a PIA request within 28 days

Making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request

An FOI request is a legal process under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act). The FOI Act gives you a legal right to access documents held by Australian government departments like the NDIA, including any documents about you. Some important points about FOI requests are:

  • It is free to make an FOI request, as long as you are asking for your own documents
  • An FOI request needs to be made in writing. The request needs to:
    • Say it is a request under the FOI Act
    • Explain what documents you want 
    • Include your address for the NDIA to contact you about your request and send you the documents
    • If you’re making the FOI request on behalf of somebody else (to get their documents), evidence that the person wants you to make the request
  • You can ask for any documents that the NDIA holds when you make an FOI request. If the documents contain certain kinds of sensitive information (for example, private personal information about somebody else), the NDIA might refuse to give you documents you have asked for, or only give you parts of those documents 
  • When you make an FOI request, the NDIA must:
    • Send you an acknowledgement letter within 14 days
    • Process your FOI request and give you the documents within 30 days (although this can be extended in some circumstances).

Tip: If your FOI request takes too long, gets refused, or the NDIA doesn’t give you the documents you think it should have, you can ask for a review of the way the NDIA has handled the request. Some information about the ways you can do this is on the Freedom of information page of the NDIS website.

If you are thinking about asking for a review of the way your FOI request was handled, you might want to ask for support from one of the services listed in the section called “Where can I get advice if I need help understanding my options?”.

Should I make a PIA request or an FOI request?

A PIA request is easy and fast. If you can get the documents you want through a PIA request, it is the best option. But if you want all of the documents the NDIA has about you, you will need to make an FOI request. This might be best if you are challenging an NDIS decision, either through an internal review or an external review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Making an FOI request following an NDIS decision

Getting documents through an FOI request can help you understand and challenge an NDIS decision. In particular, it can be very useful to see the NDIA’s internal notes about your case. These might help you to understand the best way to challenge the decision. (For more about getting a review of an NDIS decision, see our fact sheet ‘How to: Understand how to get a review of a decision by the NDIA that I don’t agree with’). 

If you want to ask for a review of an NDIS decision, you should make an FOI request as soon as possible after you get the decision, so that you can use the documents in your review. You don’t need to wait until you have the FOI documents before you ask for your review. It is important to remember the time limits to apply for both an internal and external review.

Some documents you could ask for include:

  • All interaction notes between you and the NDIA
  • All correspondence (meaning emails and other messages) between you and the NDIA
  • Internal correspondence (meaning emails and other messages) at the NDIA about your decision
  • Any opinions or decisions by the NDIA’s Technical Advisory Branch about your case and supports
  • Copies of all of the evidence that the NDIA considered when they made your decision
  • If your decision was about SDA or other Home and Living supports:
    • The “Home and Living Panel referral proforma”
    • Any opinion(s) of the “Home and Living Panel” about your case

Where can I get advice if I need help understanding my options?

You may be able to get advice about your options for requesting a review and help with other questions about the NDIS from a legal service. It will depend on the type of problem you have, and where you are located.

If you need help from a lawyer, National Legal Aid has the contact details for your local Legal Aid office.

If you need help from an advocate, the AskIzzy Disability Advocacy Finder is an online tool to help you find to search for advocacy providers using your suburb or postcode.

You can also look at our other fact sheets about this, including:


Learn more

Housing Hub Training has a recorded webinar about the NDIS appeal process and the role of the AAT. Visit the website here to enrol and learn more.

People with disability and their families can email UpSkill at training@housinghub.org.au for free access to this webinar.

Who made this factsheet?

The Housing Hub and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) made this together. Since 2021, PIAC and the Housing Hub have worked together to provide advice and assistance to participants seeking SDA funding. This factsheet is part of a series about challenging NDIS decisions.

Was this article helpful?

How to: Request access to documents about me from the NDIS

Home


This fact sheet was last reviewed on 10/08/2023. Please note that the law and practices relating to NDIS appeals change frequently. The fact sheet provides general information and suggestions only. The fact sheet does not provide legal advice, and might not apply to your circumstances. If you need legal advice, you can find an advocate or a lawyer to help you using the links below at ‘Getting your own advice’.


If you are an NDIS participant, the NDIA will have documents about you. It can be helpful to get a copy of these documents when you are requesting a review of a decision the NDIA has made. 

This page explains your right to get documents from the NDIA, and how to request a copy of those documents.

What kind of documents about me could the NDIA have?

The NDIA might have documents about you that include:

  • Forms you have filled out and sent to the NDIA, such as:
    • “Access Request” form to become an NDIS participant
    • “Home and Living Supports Request” form, to ask for Home and Living supports like Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
    • “Change of Circumstances” form
    • “Request for a review of a decision” form
  • Evidence and reports that you have given the NDIA
  • Emails and letters between you and the NDIA
  • Complaints you have made to the NDIA
  • Internal notes made by the NDIA about how they have dealt with you
  • The NDIA’s reasons for making decisions about you
  • Internal advice by different NDIA teams about how other NDIA staff should deal with your case

How do I request my documents from the NDIA?

There are 2 ways you can ask for copies of your documents from the NDIA. These are called:

1. A Participant Information Access (PIA) request

2. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request

They are slightly different, and can be used for different things.

Making a Participant Information Access (PIA) request for my documents

A PIA request is a way for NDIS participants (and people who have applied to be participants) to get copies of basic documents. Here are some important things about PIA requests:

  • It is free to make a PIA request
  • You can make a PIA request using the NDIA’s online form, by emailing information.access@ndis.gov.au or by calling 1800 800 110.
  • Your PIA request needs to include:
    • Your full name
    • Your date of birth
    • Your address
    • Your NDIS reference number
    • What documents you want copies of
    • If you’re making the PIA request on behalf of somebody else (to get their documents), evidence that shows the person wants you to make the request (eg, the NDIS consent form).
  • You can only get certain documents through a PIA request: About your request to access the NDIS, you can ask for:
    • Your Access Request Form
    • Evidence of Disability
    • Supporting Evidence Form(s)
    • Access Decision made about you
    • The reasons for that Access Decision
  •  About an NDIS plan that has been approved for you, you can ask for:
    • The NDIS plan
    • Any information the NDIA collected at your planning meeting
    • Assessments, information and evidence the NDIA used to assess what supports should be funded in your plan
    • The reasons for your plan or plan reassessment decision
    • Any medical information and reports you have given to the NDIA
  • The NDIA says it will try to give you any documents you ask for in a PIA request within 28 days

Making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request

An FOI request is a legal process under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act). The FOI Act gives you a legal right to access documents held by Australian government departments like the NDIA, including any documents about you. Some important points about FOI requests are:

  • It is free to make an FOI request, as long as you are asking for your own documents
  • An FOI request needs to be made in writing. The request needs to:
    • Say it is a request under the FOI Act
    • Explain what documents you want 
    • Include your address for the NDIA to contact you about your request and send you the documents
    • If you’re making the FOI request on behalf of somebody else (to get their documents), evidence that the person wants you to make the request
  • You can ask for any documents that the NDIA holds when you make an FOI request. If the documents contain certain kinds of sensitive information (for example, private personal information about somebody else), the NDIA might refuse to give you documents you have asked for, or only give you parts of those documents 
  • When you make an FOI request, the NDIA must:
    • Send you an acknowledgement letter within 14 days
    • Process your FOI request and give you the documents within 30 days (although this can be extended in some circumstances).

Tip: If your FOI request takes too long, gets refused, or the NDIA doesn’t give you the documents you think it should have, you can ask for a review of the way the NDIA has handled the request. Some information about the ways you can do this is on the Freedom of information page of the NDIS website.

If you are thinking about asking for a review of the way your FOI request was handled, you might want to ask for support from one of the services listed in the section called “Where can I get advice if I need help understanding my options?”.

Should I make a PIA request or an FOI request?

A PIA request is easy and fast. If you can get the documents you want through a PIA request, it is the best option. But if you want all of the documents the NDIA has about you, you will need to make an FOI request. This might be best if you are challenging an NDIS decision, either through an internal review or an external review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Making an FOI request following an NDIS decision

Getting documents through an FOI request can help you understand and challenge an NDIS decision. In particular, it can be very useful to see the NDIA’s internal notes about your case. These might help you to understand the best way to challenge the decision. (For more about getting a review of an NDIS decision, see our fact sheet ‘How to: Understand how to get a review of a decision by the NDIA that I don’t agree with’). 

If you want to ask for a review of an NDIS decision, you should make an FOI request as soon as possible after you get the decision, so that you can use the documents in your review. You don’t need to wait until you have the FOI documents before you ask for your review. It is important to remember the time limits to apply for both an internal and external review.

Some documents you could ask for include:

  • All interaction notes between you and the NDIA
  • All correspondence (meaning emails and other messages) between you and the NDIA
  • Internal correspondence (meaning emails and other messages) at the NDIA about your decision
  • Any opinions or decisions by the NDIA’s Technical Advisory Branch about your case and supports
  • Copies of all of the evidence that the NDIA considered when they made your decision
  • If your decision was about SDA or other Home and Living supports:
    • The “Home and Living Panel referral proforma”
    • Any opinion(s) of the “Home and Living Panel” about your case

Where can I get advice if I need help understanding my options?

You may be able to get advice about your options for requesting a review and help with other questions about the NDIS from a legal service. It will depend on the type of problem you have, and where you are located.

If you need help from a lawyer, National Legal Aid has the contact details for your local Legal Aid office.

If you need help from an advocate, the AskIzzy Disability Advocacy Finder is an online tool to help you find to search for advocacy providers using your suburb or postcode.

You can also look at our other fact sheets about this, including:


Learn more

Housing Hub Training has a recorded webinar about the NDIS appeal process and the role of the AAT. Visit the website here to enrol and learn more.

People with disability and their families can email UpSkill at training@housinghub.org.au for free access to this webinar.

Who made this factsheet?

The Housing Hub and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) made this together. Since 2021, PIAC and the Housing Hub have worked together to provide advice and assistance to participants seeking SDA funding. This factsheet is part of a series about challenging NDIS decisions.

Was this article helpful?