How to access our information

What type of information can you ask for?

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (External link) (the Act) you can request:

  • access to documents we hold about your personal affairs and our activities (except in relation to reviews and complaints); or
  • the amendment or removal of incorrect or misleading information about you held by us.

However, you cannot make a request for access to:

  • documents which are the subject of a review or complaint to the Information Commissioner; or
  • documents which disclose information that relates to a review or complaint to the Information Commissioner.

The word ‘document’ includes paper documents and a broad range of media (including maps, films, microfiche, photographs, computer printouts, emails, computer discs, tape recordings and videotapes).

How much does it cost to make an FOI request?

A non-refundable $28.40 fee is charged when you make an FOI request (the ‘application fee’). You can claim a waiver of the application fee if payment of the fee would cause you financial hardship. Evidence of financial hardship must be included with your FOI request if you wish to seek a waiver. If you have any questions or queries about waiver of the fee, please contact us.

Additional charges apply in certain circumstances (‘access charges’). Access charges are the costs incurred in granting access to the requested documents (e.g. photocopying the documents to provide copies to the applicant).

These costs may or may not apply depending on the nature of your request. All fees and charges are exempt from GST.

How to make an FOI request

To make an FOI request for documents held by our Office, please send your request to the Manager, Operations, at the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner, by e-mail or post at the details provided in the contact us section of this website. Alternatively, you may make your request via the online portal.

How is an FOI request to the Information Commissioner different to an application for review by the Commissioner?

An FOI request to the Information Commissioner is an application for access to information that our Office holds.

An application for review by the Information Commissioner is an application to the Information Commissioner for review of an agency’s decision, where you have already made an FOI request to that agency and are not satisfied with their decision.

Exempt documents

The Information Commissioner can refuse to grant access, or may decide to grant partial access, to certain documents or information that we hold based on exemptions under the Act (‘exempt documents’). A summary of the exemptions can be found here.

 Can someone make an FOI request on your behalf?

You can authorise another person (e.g. a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf. If you would like someone to make a request on your behalf for your personal information, you must give them written authorisation.

 Alternative ways of accessing our information

You may be able to access our information without going through the FOI access request process. Before you submit an FOI request, it may be worthwhile to contact us to find out if we can provide the information to you outside the FOI access process.

You are entitled to inspect and purchase hard copies of documents under Part II of the FOI Act. Please contact the Manager, Operations at the Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner, by post or e-mail at the details provided in the contact us section of this website if you wish to inspect and/or purchase documents that may be available under Part II.

If you need documents for a court case or some type of litigation, speak to your legal advisor about your options for accessing those documents.

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (External link) also does not apply to documents which contain information that is available for purchase by the public in accordance with arrangements made by the Information Commissioner.

What happens after we receive your FOI request?

Once we receive your request, we will conduct an initial assessment. If your request is valid, we will process it. We will contact you if we require further information or clarification.

How quickly will your request be processed?

We have up to 30 days (after the day we receive your request) to process your FOI request. This time limit only commences if your request is valid. The time may be extended if third party consultation is required, or with the consent of the applicant.

Possible outcomes of an FOI request

When the Information Commissioner has reached a decision about your request, we will send you a letter informing you of the Information Commissioner’s decision. The Information Commissioner may decide to:

  • release the documents you requested in their entirety
  • release part of the documents you requested or
  • release none of the documents you requested.

If your request has not been processed within the time limit, this is taken to be a refusal to grant access to the requested information under the Act (a ‘deemed refusal’). If this occurs, you can apply directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) (External Link) for review of the deemed refusal.

What can you do if you are not satisfied with the Commissioner’s decision?

If you are not satisfied with the Information Commissioner’s decision in relation to your FOI request, you can appeal to VCAT (External Link) for a review.