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Freedom of Information

The object of the Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982 is to extend as far as possible the right of the community to access information in the possession of agencies (eg. Ministers, State Government Departments, Local Councils, most semi-government agencies and Statutory Authorities, Public Hospitals, Universities, TAFE Colleges and Schools).

The Act gives members of the community:

  1. The right to access documents about their personal affairs and the activities of government agencies
  2. The right to request that incorrect or misleading information held by an agency about them be amended or removed

Note: The Act does not apply to privately owned businesses.

This site contains information about the Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982.  Commonwealth Government agencies and each State and Territory have their own freedom of information laws.

Councils in Victoria have been subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the Act) since 1 January 1994.

 

Making a Freedom of Information Request

You can make a request yourself, or you can authorise another person (for example, a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf. 

If you want someone to make a request on your behalf for your personal information, you must give them your written authorisation and provide evidence of your identity (For example, a photocopy or electronic copy of your current drivers licence). The authorisation and evidence must be provided with the request for access to documents.

Applications must:

  1. Be in writing, (addressed to the Freedom of Information Officer, Wellington Shire Council, PO Box 506, Sale Vic 3850) or lodged electronically via email foi@wellington.vic.gov.au. You can use our FOI Application Form (183KB) to request access to documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act if desired
  2. Clearly describe the documents you are requesting access to
  3. Be made to the agency that holds the documents you are seeking
  4. Include the application fee or evidence that you qualify to have the application fee waived

Note: Other costs may be incurred in granting access to the documents that you have requested (see below).

 

Costs

There are two costs associated with making a Freedom of Information request:

  1. The application fee
  2. The access charges

The application fee is a fixed cost which is non-refundable. The only exception is for people suffering hardship who can ask the agency to waive the application fee. If you want the fee to be waived, include evidence that payment of the fee would cause you financial hardship. For example, a photocopy or electronic copy of your current health care card.

Access charges relate to the costs incurred in granting access to the documents that you have requested.  These costs may or may not apply depending on the nature of your request.

The Freedom of Information Act states that an application fee will be two fee units.  The Treasurer advises the value of fee units under the Monetary Units Act 2004 and application fee changes are effective from 1 July each year.

The following outlines the current costs associated with a Freedom of Information request.  All fees and charges are exempt from GST.

Application Fee
The Freedom of Information Act states that an application fee will be two fee units. The Treasurer advises the value of fee units under the Monetary Units Act 2004 and application fee changes are effective from 1 July each year.
Application Fee   $28.40 (Non-refundable unless fee is waived) 
Access Charges
The fees charged for access to the documents identified as relevant to your request. 
Search Charges  $21.30 per hour or part of an hour (rounded to the nearest 10c) 
Supervision Charges  $21.30 per hour to be calculated per quarter hour or part of a quarter hour (rounded to the nearest 10c)
Photocopying Charges 20c per black and white A4 page
Providing access in a form other than photocopying The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the copy
Charges for listening to/viewing a tape The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in making arrangement to listen to or view (Supervision charges also apply)
Charge for making a written transcript out of a tape The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the written transcript. Note: These charges are set by Government regulations (Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014). You can see a copy of these regulations at the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents 

Timeframe for Processing a Freedom of Information Request

We shall take all reasonable steps to enable an applicant to be notified of a decision on their request as soon as practicable. In any case we will provide a decision no later than 45 days after receipt of a valid request.

When we receive a request, it is reviewed to ensure that all the necessary information has been included and that the request has clearly outlined the documents sought. Each application will be acknowledged by mail and the applicant will be notified if further information or clarification is required.

Note: This time limit only applies if your request is a valid request, meaning the application fee has been paid (or waived where applicable) and the request is sufficiently clear for the Officer to process it.

 

Freedom of Information Decisions

When a request has been processed, the applicant will be sent a letter with the agency’s (Wellington Shire Council’s) decision. A decision to either:

  1. Release all the documents requested
  2. Release part of the documents requested
  3. Release none of the documents requested

The agency must thoroughly and diligently search for the requested documents and provide all relevant documents sought in the request (except those for which exemptions can be applied under the Freedom of Information Act 1982).

 

Some Examples Where Documents May Be Exempt

Documents containing matter communicated in confidence, internal working documents, law enforcement documents, documents affecting legal proceedings, documents affecting personal privacy, documents relating to trade secrets etc; documents where disclosure would be contrary to public interest, documents to which secrecy provisions apply, etc are all examples of where documents may be exempt. Each Freedom of Information request must be examined and dealt with in accordance with the Act.

 

Queries and Complaints

Whilst your request is being processed, you may directly contact the Freedom of Information Officer to discuss the progress of your request or your concerns. Alternatively, if you are unhappy with the way your request is being handled, you may contact the Freedom of Information Commissioner:

Freedom of Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
Melbourne Vic 3001
Email: enquiries@foicommissioner.vic.gov.au

 

Further Information

For full details on all topics relating to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the 'Act') please refer to Victorian Government Freedom of Information website.

If you have specific questions relating to Freedom of Information and or lodging a request with Wellington Shire Council, please contact:

Freedom of Information Officer
Wellington Shire Council
PO Box 506
Sale Vic 3850
Telephone: (03) 5142 3112
Email:  foi@wellington.vic.gov.au

 

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