Reviews and Complaints

Reviews

For requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 on or after 1 September 2017, the Information Commissioner is able to review decisions of an agency or Minister to:

  • refuse access to a document under the Freedom of Information Act 1982;
  • defer access to a document;
  • not waive or reduce an application fee; or
  • refuse to amend a personal record.

If you made your FOI request prior to  1 September 2017, the Information Commissioner is unable to review a decision if it was made by a principal officer of an agency or a Minister.  In that instance, an application for review must be made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Applications for review of an FOI decision by the Information Commissioner must be made to OVIC within 28 days of receiving the decision from the agency. There are no fees or costs associated with requesting a review.

The Information Commissioner aims to conduct reviews in a timely, efficient and fair manner, with an emphasis on informal resolution.

The Information Commissioner cannot review a decision refusing access to a document under section 29A (documents affecting national security, defence or international relations). An application for review must be made to VCAT where an agency has claimed section 29A.

Apply for a Review

Complaints

The Information Commissioner can investigate the following types of complaints, where they relate to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 on or after 1 September 2017.

Agencies

  • an agency’s decision that a requested document does not exist or cannot be located;
  • a delay by the agency in processing an FOI request; or
  • any other action taken or failed to be taken by an agency in performing its functions and obligations under the FOI Act.

Ministers

  • a Minister’s decision that a requested document does not exist or cannot be located;
  • a delay by a Minister in processing an FOI request;
  • an action taken or failed to be taken by a Minister in deferring access to a document under section 24 of the FOI Act; or
  • an action taken or failed to be taken by a Minister in deciding to disclose a document containing personal or commercial information, under sections 33 or 34 of the FOI Act.

Principal officers

  • an action taken or failed to be taken by a principal officer in the performance of his or her functions or obligations under Part IB (professional standards) or Part II (publication of certain documents and information) of the FOI Act.

If you made your FOI request prior to 1 September 2017, the Information Commissioner cannot accept complaints about a principal officer under Parts IB or II, or a decision of a Minister that a document does not exist or cannot be located.

A complaint to the Information Commissioner must be made in writing, within 60 days after the date of the action or conduct complained of.

The Information Commissioner will resolve complaints informally, if it is possible to do so. Agencies and Ministers have an obligation to cooperate with the Information Commissioner in relation to complaints made about them.

There is no statutory timeframe in the FOI Act for the completion of an investigation into a complaint.

The Information Commissioner may decide not to accept or to dismiss a complaint at any time. The Information Commissioner can also refer a complaint to a more appropriate person or body.

Lodge a Complaint