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Right To Know

Right To Know lets you make and browse Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in Australia. It is powered by the open source FOI request platform Alaveteli.

This repository contains the the theme package for Alaveteli for the Australian deployment. If you find a problem with Right to Know, please report it to this repository's issue tracker.


To get the most benefits from open source and be good open source citizens we use upstream Alaveteli and not a fork. If there is a bug in the core software that can be shared by all we will make the fix in our repository and open a pull request. In the vast majority of cases we will not deploy a fix until it's been accepted upstream. This ensures we're all using the same code as much as possible.

However if you'd like to adjust the look and feel of Right To Know, or to update copy like that found on the help pages, this is the place to make those changes.

To get a development copy up-and-running, follow the Alaveteli installation instructions and then install this theme. You can read more about themes and how to install them in the Alaveteli documentation.


If you want to modify the customised look and feel of Right To Know then you should edit this repository however if it's something more general you probably want to edit the upstream core Alaveteli software.

To contribute an enhancement or a fix to this theme:

  • Fork the project on GitHub.
  • Make a topic branch from the production branch.
  • Make your changes and test.
  • Commit the changes without making changes to any files that aren't related to your enhancement or fix.
  • Send a pull request against the production branch.


Adding new authorities

Should an agency be added?

Not everything that the government considers to be a distinct agency is an entity that people actually want to make requests to. It is very much a subjective call, but always try and make the site most useful to the people who use it. If there is a lot of unnecessary sub-division authorities for example, requests will be more difficult to find in the site. Try to avoid this. For example, the IT division or the head office of an agency are probably just part of the agency itself for the purpose of information requests.

If a sub-department agency has a distinct office, it’s own website and information request email address, and does stuff that people would want to make requests about, it should probably be a distinct authority in Right To Know.

If in doubt, ask the team.

Format of state name in authority names

For state authorities often the name of the state appears in the name of the authority.

On the Art Gallery of NSW website they refer to their own name in three different forms: Art Gallery NSW, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Art Gallery of NSW. We're currently using Art Gallery of NSW because it is commonly used, succinct, and searchable. Therefore if the name of the state is in the name of the authority, use the form they use or the form in most common use.

When you need to choose, use real acronyms (NSW, ACT, WA, SA, NT) but not contractions (use Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland, not VIC, TAS, or QLD).

Request email

When collecting the email address that requests to the authority are sent to, we need to find the best address to deal with them directly. A specific address for the authority isn’t always available, especially when they exist within a bigger department. This is the order of preference for the authority’s request email:

  1. Specific FOI address for sub-department agency (e.g.
  2. Specific address for sub-department agency at department (e.g.
  3. Specific FOI address for department (e.g.
  4. Generic address for department (e.g.
  5. Address for a specific person at the agency (e.g.

A person’s address is the absolute last resort.

Public notes

You can add public notes about the authority. The notes are displayed on the authority’s page, as an excerpt in lists of authorities, and as a highlighted notice when someone makes a request to the authority. They are covered in the site search.

The note could include important information about requesting from this department, key terms people might use when searching for the agency, and a basic description of the authority. For example:

HomeStart was created by the South Australian Government in 1989, as a response to high interest rates and a lack of affordable home loan finance options. HomeStart was established as a statutory corporation under the Housing and Urban Development (Administrative Arrangements) Act 1995 and reports to the Minister for Housing and Urban Development.

Short name

You can add abbreviated version of the authority’s name as it’s short name. These are really useful because the common name for an agency might not be it’s full formal name. For example, people commonly search “ABS” when looking for the “Australian Bureau of Statistics”.

It’s very important to only add acronyms or abbreviations that people really do use. These are displayed on authority pages and lists of authorities, and having lots of irrelevant short names adds unnecessary noise to the page.

Removing an authority

Authorities that are defunct aren’t actually removed from Right To Know. Add the defunct tag to the authority and it will no longer be available for requests. People can still find requests to the authority in search results and see all the requests that were made to them while they were active.


A unique aspect of Right To Know compared to other Alaveteli installations is that we're in the process of supporting 9 different jurisdictions - Federal and all the states and territories.

We have customisations in this theme to adjust the length of time authorities have to respond to a request and the law names depending on what jurisdiction an authority is covered by. These customisations rely on the use of Alaveteli's tags to work out what jurisdiction an authority is covered by.

The table below show what tag you need to use for each jurisdiction. Don't forget to also add the appropriate category tag, described in the section below, for the authority you're adding.

Jurisdiction Tag
Federal federal


Public authority categories are configured in the Alaveteli admin interface. This how we want Right To Know's categories organised:


Title Description Tag
Agriculture part of the Agriculture portfolio agriculture
Attorney-General part of the Attorney-General portfolio attorney_general
Communications part of the Communications portfolio communications
Defence part of the Defence portfolio defence
Education and Training part of the Education and Training portfolio education_and_training
Employment part of the Employment portfolio employment
Environment part of the Environment portfolio environment
Finance part of the Finance portfolio finance
Foreign Affairs and Trade part of the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio foreign_affairs_and_trade
Health part of the Health portfolio health
Immigration & Border Protection part of the Immigration & Border Protection portfolio immigration_and_border_protection
Industry and Science part of the Industry and Science portfolio industry_and_science
Infrastructure and Regional Development part of the Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio infrastructure_and_regional_development
Prime Minister part of the Prime Minister portfolio prime_minister
Social Services part of the Social Services portfolio social_services
Treasury part of the Treasury portfolio treasury
Veterans' Affairs part of the Veterans' Affairs portfolio veterans_affairs
All Federal authorities a Federal authority federal

State and Territory

Title Description Tag
ACT an ACT authority ACT_state
New South Wales a NSW authority NSW_state
Northern Territory a Northern Territory authority NT_state
Queensland a Queensland authority QLD_state
South Australia a South Australian authority SA_state
Tasmania a Tasmanian authority TAS_state
Victoria a Victorian authority VIC_state
Western Australia a Western Australian authority WA_state


Title Description Tag
New South Wales a NSW Council NSW_council
Northern Territory a Northern Territory Council NT_council
Queensland a Queensland Council QLD_council
South Australia a South Australian Council SA_council
Tasmania a Tasmanian Council TAS_council
Victoria a Victorian Council VIC_council
Western Australia a Western Australian Council WA_council

Adding more jurisdictions

When adding authorities for jurisdictions we don't yet cover we need to:


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