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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.

During the COVID-19 crisis Council continues to process requests for documents under the FOI Act. However, processing times may be impacted due to staff working remotely to comply with government advice. Should you make a request, our FOI Officer will keep you up to the date with the status.


Before making a request

Please contact the relevant Council area or the FOI Officer before making a formal FOI request. You may be able to access the documents you require without making an FOI request, for example some documents are available on our website or by making an online application.  Please refer to:

Please be aware that making an FOI request does not guarantee you access to the documents you seek, as exemptions for the protection of essential public interests and of private and business affairs exist within the FOI Act (see Exempt Documents).



How to make a Freedom of Information request

Your request must be for access to documents (not for information or answers to questions) 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.

Please include your name, address, and contact information (telephone number and/or email address) in your request, as well as a clear description of the document(s) you wish to access.

You may lodge your request:

If you do not wish to apply online, we recommend you download and complete Council’s FOI request form.

Send your application to us as follows:

  • by email to info@kingston.vic.gov.au,
  • by post to The FOI Officer, City of Kingston, PO Box 1000, Mentone 3194; or
  • in person at Council’s Customer Care Centre, 1230 Nepean Highway Cheltenham (Mon-Fri 8:30-5pm).


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 2021 to 30 June 2022 

 Application fee*

$30.10

Search time
- per hour or part thereof

$22.545 per hour
  Up to 1 hour rounded to $22.50

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

$22.545 per hour
  Up to 15 minutes $5.60
15 to 30 minutes $11.30

 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:

  • section 30(1) - internal working documents 
  • section 31(1) - law enforcement documents 
  • section 32(1) - documents affecting legal proceedings (legal advice or opinions) 
  • section 33(1) - personal affairs information about a person other than the applicant (such as names, addresses, phone numbers)
  • section 34(1) - information relating to trade secrets (putting a commercial business at an unreasonable disadvantage) 
  • section 35(1) - information obtained in confidence
  • section 38 - a secrecy provision of another enactment prevents disclosure -  includes information that is confidential under the Local Government Act 2020 


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.  If further information is required to identify the documents you seek access to, the timeframe starts from when that information has been provided. 

The time to notify you of a decision on your request may be extended if an access charges deposit is required and 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 people, business and government agencies 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 affected parties before a decision to release documents can be made. Where a decision is made to release a third party’s information and they did not consent to the release of the information, they have 60 days in which to request a review by 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 our outcome of the VCAT review.

Appeal and Review

You will be notified in writing of the decision on access to the documents.  If the decision is not to provide documents you will be provided with reasons. 

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.