The object of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 is to extend as far as possible the right of the community to access information in the possession of the government and government agencies, ministers, State Government departments, local councils, most semi-government agencies and statutory authorities, public hospitals and community health centres, universities, TAFE colleges and schools.
The FOI Act has four main functions:
- To provide a general right of access to documents
- To enable individuals to amend incorrect information about them held by government
- To provide rights of appeal in relation to the previous two functions
- To require agencies to publish certain details about themselves and their functions
Publications freely available to the public are not available under FOI (Section 14 of the Act).
For access to documents that are not available outside of the Act, a request must be made in writing and accompanied by the prescribed application fee. The fee is increased annually in accordance with the Monetary Units Act 2004. Payment is accepted by cheque or by cash. In accordance with Section 17(2B) of the FOI Act, you may request for the application fee to be reduced or waived. If you apply for the application to be reduced or waived please supply evidence (such as Health Care card or Pension Card or other documentation) that payment would cause you hardship.
How to make a valid FOI request
All requests must be in writing and be accompanied by an application fee of $29.60. Your request must clearly describe the document/s being sought and must state in which form the documents are to be supplied i.e. a copy or by inspection.
If the request does not comply with the requirements of the Act, the Corporation’s FOI Officer can provide advice and assistance to formulate a complying request.
If your request relates to the correction or amendment of your own personal information held by the Corporation, you need to specify how and why you believe the information about you is incorrect, incomplete, misleading or out of date, and details of the amendments you wish to make. No charges apply to requests for the correction or amendment of your own personal information.
You can ask for access to any document held by the Corporation, but some are exempt under the Act. The more common exemptions relevant to Local Government are:
- Documents affecting personal privacy such as names, addresses, phone numbers – Section 33(1)
- Documents relating to trade secrets (putting commercial business at an unreasonable disadvantage) – Section 34(1)
- Documents affecting legal proceedings (legal advice or opinions) – Section 32(1)
- Documents prepared for and used at a meeting closed to the public (such as minutes, reports) – Section 38A
Fees and charges
Your request may incur access charges in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014. You will be supplied with a statement of any applicable charges as your request progresses.
Search and access charges allowable under the FOI Act are also applicable to each application.
|Search & retrieval of documents||$22.20 per hour or part thereof|
|Photocopying documents – b & w||20 cents per A4 page, 40 cents per A3 page|
|Photocopying documents – colour||The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the copy|
|Supervised inspection of documents||A charge for supervision will be equal to 1.5 fee units per hour (to be calculated per quarter hour or part of a quarter hour).|
* Application fees may be waived in certain circumstances (e.g. for applicants who hold a current health care or pension card – a copy of the card must be submitted with your request). The application fee increases each year on 1st July.
If charges are likely to exceed $50 you will be notified. A deposit of $25 may be required if you want to proceed with the request.
Some documents may be exempted form access for personal or business affairs reasons. Where a decision is made to refuse or defer access, the applicant will be notified in writing of the reasons for such denial/deferral. If the applicant is not satisfied with the reasons he/she can seek a review from the FOI Commissioner.
Before submitting your request you are encouraged to contact the FOI Officer to discuss.
All requests should be addressed to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Wimmera Regional Library Corporation
28 McLachlan Street
Horsham Vic 3400
For more information go to the Office of the Victorian Information Commission.