Making a submission to a committee inquiry

About inquiries

A parliamentary committee is a sub-group of the Parliament that does inquiry and oversight work on behalf of the Parliament. It contains Members of the House of Representatives and/or Senators. Committees focus on particular subject matter areas. House of Representatives Infosheet number 4 provides further information about parliamentary committees.

The main purpose of a parliamentary committee is to inquire into a topic and report back to the Parliament. Most inquiries have terms of reference, which set out the scope of the inquiry. The terms of reference will be available on the committee’s website.

When a committee conducts an inquiry, it will try and find out the facts of a case or issue, gather and sift through evidence provided to it in writing or in person, and will draw conclusions which will be published in a report.

You can participate in an inquiry by:

  • making a written or spoken submission and providing it to the committee, and
  • attending a public hearing or briefing as a witness to give oral evidence.

Committees may also do an online survey, have a roundtable, or talk face to face to experts in hearings. You can read published submissions and listen to public hearings (or read the transcript) through the committee website.

Inquiry process

Image of inquiry process: starting with the launch, then evidence gathering, report drafting and finally presenting a report to parliament.

Requirements for submissions

Committee inquiries are part of the formal work of the Parliament. There are strict rules on the form and content of a submission. Submissions must:

  • be prepared solely for the purposes of the inquiry
  • not have been published anywhere else
  • be relevant to the terms of reference
  • be received by the committee before the due date
  • include the name, postal or email address, and contact number of the person or organisation making the submission.

Content of submissions

Submissions are usually written documents, but they can be pictures or short videos. There is no set format for submissions. Submissions can contain facts, opinions, and recommendations. They can address some or all of the terms of reference. Submissions should draw on your particular knowledge or experience of the issues.

Useful submissions make a clear argument, contain recommendations for action, and provide sources for any references. If the submission is more than a few pages long it is helpful to include a table of contents and a summary.

During an inquiry, additional evidence or comment can be provided to the committee through a supplementary submission.

We will remove personal details such as email addresses from a submission before publishing it on the website. If possible, include personal details in a cover letter rather than the body of the submission.

Given the sensitive nature of some inquiries, please ensure that the names and identifying details of other people, particularly children, are not included in your submission. If you would like your submission to be private, you can request it be accepted on a confidential basis (see below).

Attachments and supporting documents can be sent with your submission. If the document you are attaching has already been published (for example, a journal article or newspaper article), the committee may call it an ‘exhibit’ or correspondence. It is important that you state clearly if any of your attachments or supporting documents should be taken as confidential.

You may also include hyperlinks and references to other documents. Please include full web addresses, as hyperlinks may be removed before publication.

Submissions which make allegations or comment negatively about another organisation or person will take longer to be considered by a committee. The organisation or person you refer to may be given your submission and the opportunity to respond.

Submissions should not include discriminatory content, foul or offensive language, or refer to matters currently before a court.

Who can make a submission?

Any interested individual or organisation can make a submission to a parliamentary committee. Several people or organisations can make a joint submission.

Organisations and people from other countries can make submissions to an inquiry. However, protections under parliamentary privilege (see ‘Your protections’ below) cannot be enforced outside Australia.

How to lodge a submission

Submissions can be lodged online via a link on the inquiry home page. First, create a My Parliament account. This account can be used again for future submissions and also for tracking committees, inquiries and bills. You will need to provide your name and a valid email address to create a My Parliament account.

More information about online submissions is available at

Submissions can be uploaded as a Word document, a PDF, or in plain text format. You can upload multiple documents: for example, a covering letter, public submission and a confidential attachment.

If the submission is by an organisation, we publish the organisation as the author of the submission, not an individual. Please let us know prior to publication if that is not correct.

An acknowledgement will be sent to the email address you provide confirming receipt of your submission.

Submissions can also be sent directly by email or post. Individual committee addresses are available on the Australian Parliament’s website.

If you cannot make a submission by the deadline, it may sometimes be possible for a short extension of time. Please contact the committee’s secretariat to ask for an extension.

Process of a submission

Once the submission has been received, it is assessed by the secretariat. You may receive confirmation that it has been accepted and published, or that there are issues with your document that need to be resolved. You can check the webpage to see if your submission is online, or contact the secretariat. You can ‘track’ the inquiry by visiting the inquiry webpage and clicking the ‘track inquiry’ button and entering your details.

After assessing the submission, the committee decides whether to accept it and authorise its publication. The committee can also decide to only publish part of a submission.

Once a submission is accepted and authorised for publication, personal details are removed and the document is placed on the website. It then forms part of the formal record of the inquiry.

If you are unsure about the status of your submission, please check with the committee secretariat.

Your protections

The presentation or submission of a document to a committee is privileged under the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987. This means that a person is immune from legal action in respect of lodging the submission or any statements contained in it. If a submission is authorised by a committee for publication, its distribution is also immune from legal action.

It is an offence to improperly influence anyone from making a submission, or threaten anyone for making a submission.

Your obligations

Publication of submissions

After a submission is received by a committee, you cannot publish or disclose it to any other person unless or until the committee has authorised its publication. You cannot share your document until you hear from the committee that it can be published. If your submission has any information removed or redacted by the committee before it is published, you should only share the published version. If the committee has agreed to accept your submission as confidential, you cannot share it with anyone.

You cannot withdraw or alter your submission without the committee’s permission. If there are additional matters you wish to raise, you can do a supplementary submission.

If your submission includes confidential information about another person, you should seek advice from the committee secretariat before lodging your submission.

Confidential submissions

Committees prefer that evidence be given in public if possible. However, you can ask that all or part of your submission remain confidential. Please note this clearly on the front of the submission, and include a reason for requesting confidentiality.

A confidential submission will not appear on the website or be quoted in the report.

Another option is to request anonymity, where the submission appears but your name is not published. The submission will be marked as ‘Name withheld’.

You could also consider putting any confidential information in an appendix to the submission to allow the body of the submission to be published and publicly referred to by the committee.

You should contact the committee secretariat in the first instance if you are considering lodging a submission that you would like to remain confidential, either in part or in whole.

The committee will consider individual requests for confidentiality, but retains the authority to publish any submission. Please note that even if a committee agrees to confidentiality, the document may still be released later on, either by the committee or by the Parliament.

Public hearings

It is up to the committee to decide who to invite to appear at a public hearing and give evidence. Committees will often call submitters to appear at public hearings, but can invite others. If you are invited to appear at a hearing, but cannot attend in person, you can ask to appear by phone or videoconference.

Submission checklist

  • Has my submission been written for the purpose of the inquiry?
  • Have I checked that this is not material that has been published previously?
  • Have I commented on some or all of the terms of reference?
  • Have I provided a summary of the submission at the front and numbered the pages (for long submissions)?
  • Have I provided my return postal or email address and contact details with the submission?
  • Have I ensured that my personal details are excluded from the body of the submission?
  • If I want to make a confidential submission, have I made this clear on the front of the submission and included reasons for requesting confidentiality?

Further information

Further information can be sought from the secretary of the committee conducting the particular inquiry or from the:

Office of the Clerk Assistant (Committees)
House of Representatives
PO Box 6021
Parliament House

Phone: 02 6277 4397

See also related pamphlets on parliamentary committees:

Appearing at a public hearing

Notes to help those appearing as a witness at a parliamentary committee hearing.

Dealing with Parliamentary Committees

Notes to help those dealing with parliamentary committees. This pamphlet also lists contact details for each committee secretariat.

Stay informed

Keep up with the work of parliamentary committees on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Media alert service. You can also use the Track Committee facility by creating a login account at, and this will provide you with a personal My Parliament profile to track committees.