Under the Victorian Freedom of Information Act (1982) all of us can ask for information from governments (including local government) and a range of organisations.
There are rules to guide any request you may have for information from these organisations including:
What you can access
You can apply for access to documents that are held by the Campaspe Shire Council (council) which are covered by the Freedom of Information Act.
- documents about your personal affairs, regardless of the age of the documents
- documents of a non-personal nature, not older than 5 July 1978
- documents held by council, not older than 1 January 1989
- requests that incorrect or misleading information held by council about you be amended or removed.
You are not entitled to documents which:
- are exempt
- are outside the scope of the request
- are publicly available (for inspection or purchase)
- date back to before 1 January 1989 (for documents held by council).
Many council documents are available without having to make a Freedom of Information request. Please refer to what documents are available to the public before making your application.
How do I make a Freedom of Information Request?
You can make a request simply by completing the request form, or you can authorise someone else (for example, a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf. If you want someone to make a request on your behalf for your personal information, you must give them your written authorisation. This needs to be provided with your application.
A valid Freedom of Information application must:
- be in writing to council or lodged electronically via FOI Online
- clearly describe the specific documents or group of documents you want access to
- it is recommended that you try to give a time period and describe the type of documents you want (such as reports, letters or permits) and not ‘all documents’ in a broad category. If your request is quite broad, you may receive and be charged for documents you don’t want access to.
- include the application fee which is a non-refundable, fixed cost or provide evidence that you qualify to have an application fee waived under the hardship provisions. There may be other costs incurred in granting access to the documents you have requested.
Once your request is received, the council’s FOI officer will review it to make sure that all the necessary information has been included and the documents you are requesting have been clearly identified. The officer will contact you if more information is needed.
Council may not be able to identify any relevant documents to release. If there are relevant documents, the FOI officer will decide to either:
- release all the documents you requested
- release part of the documents you requested
- release none of the documents you requested.
When your request has been processed, you will be sent a letter with the officer’s decision.
Under the Act, your request must be completed within 30 days from the date council receives a valid request. Note: This time limit only applies if your request has all the details the officer needs to process it and the application fee has been paid or waived. The time limit can be extended in some circumstances, such as if third party consultation is required, or by agreement with you.
Part II Statement
Part II of the Freedom of Information Act ensures that individuals and organisations can effectively exercise their right to obtain access to government information which may affect them. To this end, they must be aware of what government does, how it acts and what information it holds.
Council releases a large amount of information through online and print publishing as well as person-to-person service provision. In order to comply with Part II of the Act, council has developed Information Statements to show how it is making information readily available to the public. Making information easily accessible reduces the need for members of the public to submit requests under the Act.
Council's Part II Statement is available here.
If you are unhappy with the FOI officer’s decision regarding the documents you requested or with the way your request is being handled, you can ask for a review. Write to:
The Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
within 28 days of receiving the decision letter. The commissioner will work with you and council with the aim of resolving the matter to the satisfaction of both parties. If this is not possible, the commissioner has the power to make a fresh decision on the application. Complaints about the Freedom of Information process should also be directed to the commissioner.
For further information contact:
Freedom of Information Officer
Campaspe Shire Council
PO Box 35
ECHUCA VIC 3564