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Freedom of Information (FOI)

The Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982  (the Act) gives you the right to request access to documents held by State and Local government agencies. This includes documents containing your personal information. You can request that agencies amend or remove incorrect or misleading personal information.

 


Before making a request

You may be able to access the documents you require without making an FOI request.  Please consider contacting the relevant Council area or the FOI Officer before making your request. Common documents you can access outside FOI include:

Please be aware that FOI does not guarantee you access to the documents you seek, as exemptions exist with the FOI Act (see Exempt Documents).



How to make a Freedom of Information request

All requests must be for documents (not information) and must be made in writing.  

All requests must be accompanied by the application fee (see Fees and Charges below). However, you may apply for the application fee to be waived if payment would cause you hardship. Council requires evidence of hardship to waive the fee.  Examples of suitable evidence include a copy of the applicant’s valid Health Care or Pensioner Concession card.  

Your request must clearly describe the document(s) being sought. Please be sure to include your name, address, and contact information (telephone number and/or email address).

You may lodge your request:

  • online - to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request online - click here

If you opt for an application method other than the online form, we recommend you download and complete Council’s FOI request form - please click here.   

Send your application to us as follows:



Fees and Charges

Under section 22 of the FOI Act and the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014, access charges are applicable to FOI requests. The application fee and access charges increase annually on 1 July.  A summary of the charges is as follows:

Requests received 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020:

 Application fee*

$29.62
 May be rounded to $29.60

 Search time
  - per hour or part thereof

$22.215 per hour
 Up to 1 hour rounded to $22.20

 Supervision for inspection of documents
  - per hour to be calculated per quarter hour or part thereof

$22.215 per hour
 Up to 15 minutes: $5.60

 Copying Charges
  - per black and white A4 page

20 cents

 Copying Charges
  - other formats

Reasonable costs incurred by the agency

Please note:

  • No charges apply to requests for the correction or amendment of your own personal information.
  • Under section 22(4) of the FOI Act, if it is estimated that the charges will be between $50.00 and $100.00, a deposit of $25.00 is required before the request is further processed.
  • If the calculated amount will exceed $100.00, the required deposit amount is 50% of the estimated charge.
  • Documents are not provided until the applicable charges are paid.

*The application fee may be waived if payment would cause you hardship.  Council requires evidence of hardship to waive the fee.  Examples of suitable evidence include a copy of the applicant’s valid Health Care or Pensioner Concession card.   



Exempt Documents

You can ask for access to any document held by Kingston City Council.  However, in some cases, access may not be granted, or documents may be provided in a redacted form, due to exemptions permissible under the Act. The more common exemptions relevant to council documents are:

  • law enforcement documents  - section 31(1)
  • documents affecting legal proceedings (legal advice or opinions) – section 32(1)
  • personal information about a person other than the applicant (such as names, addresses, phone numbers) - section 33(1)
  • information relating to trade secrets (putting a commercial business at an unreasonable disadvantage) – section 34(1)
  • information obtained in confidence – section 35(1)
  • documents prepared for and used at a Council meeting closed to the public (such as minutes, reports) – section 38A 


After You Make a Request 

Processing time

Under the Act, Council has 30 days from receiving a valid request to notify you of a decision on access to document(s), and 30 days to make a decision relating to the correction or amendment of your own personal information. Extensions to this time may be required if third party consultation is required.

Before you can receive a decision on your request, Council must search for the documents and assess them for exempt material. 

Consultation

Before deciding on access to a document, Council may need to seek the views of third parties that could be affected by the release of the material. Circumstances where this must occur include when documents contain:

  • personal information that identifies any individual (other than the FOI applicant)
  • material provided by a business or government agency
  • information that may have been communicated in confidence

Consultation is required with each party before making a decision to release documents. Where a decision is made to release a third party’s information and the third party did not consent to the release of the information, they then have 60 days in which to appeal the decision to release the information. The appeal is made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Although a decision may be made to release the material, it must be withheld for 60 days pending the expiry of the appeal period.

Appeal and Review

You will be notified of the decision in writing.

When you receive a decision about your request you’ll be advised of your rights to seek a review of Council’s decision by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner.  


Contact

Contact Council’s Freedom of Information Officer with your enquiries and for assistance in making a valid request under the FOI Act.

Telephone: 1300 653 356

Mail: info@kingston.vic.gov.au

OVIC

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) is an independent regulator with combined oversight of information access, information privacy, and data protection.  You can contact OVIC for a review of an FOI decision made by Council or if you have a complaint about the way Council has handled your request.

For further information about FOI, see the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner website: ovic.gov.au