Apply for a Review

You can submit your review application form to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner by post or email.

Please ensure that:

If someone is making a request for a review on your behalf (e.g. a solicitor), you must give them written authorisation to do so and this written authorisation should be provided with your review application.

To assist the FOI Commissioner, please include the following in your application for review:

  • a copy of your original FOI request to the Agency
  • a copy of the Agency’s decision letter

If you are unsure whether the FOI Commissioner can review your matter or you require assistance with filling out the review application form, please feel free to contact us by calling 1300 VIC FOI (1300 842 364).

FOI Commissioner – Review Form (DOC, 203KB)

FOI Commissioner – Review Form (PDF, 62KB)

 

To submit a review application by email, please email your review application form and all supporting documentation to enquiries@foicommissioner.vic.gov.au.

Please note the combined file size of all the electronic documents you attach must not exceed 5 megabytes.

To submit a review application by post, please download a review application form and send your signed and completed form and all supporting documentation to:

Freedom of Information Commissioner – Reviews
Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
Melbourne Victoria 3001

When an application for review of an FOI decision is received, staff of the Office of the FOI Commissioner will assess the application to determine whether it is a matter that is able to be reviewed by the FOI Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

In assessing the eligibility of an application for review, the following matters are considered:

  • whether the application was sent within 28 days of the applicant receiving the decision letter from the agency;
  • whether the application for review relates to a decision by a principal officer of an agency or by a Minister as an application for review cannot be made with respect to such matters;
  • whether the documents subject to the request have been denied on the grounds that they are Cabinet documents or on the grounds of national security; and
  • whether the application for review identifies the agency that made the original decision, and the decision to be reviewed.

If it is determined that the application for review was not made within the required 28 days or is a matter about which the FOI Commissioner does not have jurisdiction under the FOI Act, the applicant will be informed by letter and their application returned.

Where the application for review is within the jurisdiction of the FOI Commissioner, senior staff members will provide a recommendation to the Commissioner. If the FOI Commissioner determines to accept the application for review, a letter will be sent to the applicant and the agency notifying each that the Commissioner has accepted the application for review.

Where an application for review does not include all necessary information, the applicant will be contacted and requested to provide the relevant information.

The FOI Commissioner can decide not to accept an application, or dismiss a review at any stage, if the application is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance or not made in good faith.

Where the FOI Commissioner determines to accept an application for review, a lead staff member is assigned to the file.

A staff member may conduct preliminary enquiries with the parties, and request from the agency the documents that are subject to review. If the documents subject to review have been exempt under section 31 of the FOI Act, the documents will be inspected at the agency.

Both parties are provided the opportunity to make a written submission in relation to the review. While the provision of a written submission is not compulsory, the FOI Commissioner will consider any written submissions received when making a decision. Written submissions made to the FOI Commissioner in review matters are not provided to the other party, except with the express written permission of the party providing the submission.

In accordance with the FOI Act, the FOI Commissioner will conduct a review in a timely, efficient and fair manner, with as little formality and technicality as possible. To facilitate the timely handling of reviews, the lead staff member will explore the possibilities of informal, negotiated agreements between the parties to dismiss matters where appropriate.

An agency may also choose to deliver a fresh decision on the original FOI application, resulting in the suspension of the review. If the applicant is satisfied with the fresh decision of the agency, the review is dismissed. If the applicant is unsatisfied with the agency’s fresh decision, the review of that fresh decision by the FOI Commissioner commences.

As the FOI Commissioner operates within a statutory timeframe of 30 days to complete a review, the FOI Commissioner may request an extension of time from the applicant. Whether an extension is sought may depend on the complexity of a matter, the number of documents that are the subject of the review and any other considerations relevant to that review.

Where a review is unable to be resolved by agreement between the parties, it will proceed to a decision by the FOI Commissioner or Assistant FOI Commissioner. Only the FOI Commissioner or Assistant FOI Commissioner can make a decision with respect to a review.

In making a decision, the FOI Commissioner or Assistant FOI Commissioner considers all the material relevant to the review, including the documents subject to review, any written submissions from the parties, the interests of both parties in the documents subject to review, any existing case law, and any other factors that may assist in the making of a decision.

Possible outcomes include:

Outcome
Description
Make a fresh decision  

The FOI Commissioner may make a fresh decision as to whether the documents subject to the review should be released and whether exemptions apply.

 

Dismiss the request for review  

The FOI Commissioner may dismiss the request if it is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance, not made in good faith, is more appropriately dealt with by VCAT, is considered not appropriate in the circumstances or if the applicant fails to co-operate or is not contactable.

 

Seek a negotiated agreement  

When conducting a request for review, the FOI Commissioner may facilitate a negotiated agreement between the applicant and the agency. The agreement must be in writing.

 

Refer the request back to the agency for a fresh decision  

After making preliminary inquiries, the FOI Commissioner may refer the request back to the agency to reconsider, if it appears reasonably likely the agency would make a fresh decision that would be satisfactory to the applicant. The FOI Commissioner must seek the applicant’s agreement to do so.

 

Agency revokes its original decision  

An agency may revoke its original decision during a review and make a fresh decision. If the applicant agrees with the agency’s fresh decision, the FOI Commissioner must dismiss the application for review.

 

 

If a fresh decision is made, each party will be provided with a copy of the fresh decision, together with a covering letter that informs each party of their right to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the decision within 60 days.

Where the fresh decision requires an agency to release a document to the applicant, it does not take effect until 60 days after the notice of decision is given to the applicant.

If the fresh decision requires the agency to disclose a document that contains information relating to the personal affairs of a person, which were claimed by the agency to be exempt, (eg. a person’s identity, address or location), the FOI Commissioner will notify the person or persons concerned and advise them of their right to apply to VCAT for a review of the FOI Commissioner’s decision.

For further information, please refer to the review procedure flowchart