Victoria’s Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives members of the public the right to apply for access to information held by ministers, State Government departments, local councils, public hospitals, most semi-government agencies and statutory authorities.
The department complies with the FOI Act and has a dedicated Freedom of Information Unit which can answer any questions you may have relating to FOI and the department.
How do I lodge a FOI request?
It is important to first contact the department’s FOI Unit to confirm whether a formal request for information is required as it may already be available in the Annual Report or on this website.
To lodge an online Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the department, visit the Victorian Government’s Freedom of Information website which outlines the steps for making a request, from preparing an application to identifying where the request should be sent.
On that site you can also find out what type of document is covered by the Act, commonly asked questions and answers, suggested links to relevant legislative websites, and contact details for relevant government agencies.
To lodge a FOI request directly to the department in writing, or for information on completing and lodging a request under the FOI Act, contact:
A FOI request must be specific enough to allow an agency to identify documents considered relevant to a request. Where the terms of a request are vague, assistance will be provided to applicants to help determine the type of documents being sought. The application fee must accompany the request at the time of lodgement, otherwise the request will be invalid.
Frequently asked questions
What is the cost of lodging a request?
All FOI requests are subject to a $28.40 application fee (as at 1 July 2017). This fee is subject to an increase on 1 July every year. The fee may be waived in cases where payment would cause an applicant financial hardship. Where an applicant seeks a waiver of this fee, the request should indicate the grounds on which a waiver is being sought (for example, low income or holder of Commonwealth Health Care Card).
Access charges may also apply once documents have been processed and a decision on access made for example, 20c per A4 page photocopying charge and a $20.90 per hour search and retrieval charge. It should be noted that, under certain circumstances, some of these charges can be waived.
What kind of information is available for request?
The FOI Act allows people to apply for access to all documents held by an agency, irrespective of the form in which the documents are stored. This includes, but is not limited to, paper and electronic documents. Assistance in determining documents relevant to a request can be provided by the department’s FOI Unit.
Are documents requested under FOI automatically released?
In assessing whether it is suitable to release documents, the FOI Officer considers whether any material requested is exempt from release under the FOI Act. The FOI Act outlines general categories of information that are exempt. These include information relating to the personal affairs of third parties, information provided in confidence, information which if released might endanger the lives or physical safety of individuals, cabinet documents, commercial-in-confidence information, internal working documents which if released would be contrary to the public interest, and so on.
Who are the decision makers under the FOI Act?
Decisions are made under the FOI Act by the Secretary of the department, or in line with arrangements made by the Secretary as required under Sections 26 and 51 of the FOI Act.
Decision-making powers and other powers affecting members of the public are found in the legislation administered by the portfolio ministers.
Acts administered by the portfolio ministers are listed in General Orders available on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.
Where can I access information about specific areas of responsibility of the department?
Members of the general public can also call or write directly to the department seeking information on any aspect of its operations, including unpublished material listed in Appendix 16 of the Department’s Annual Report. The correspondence can be addressed to either the Secretary of the department or the director of the relevant business unit. Guidance on the relevant business unit can be taken from the department’s organisation chart contained in the Annual Report.