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Freedom of Information (FOI)

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the Act), members of the public have a general right of access to documents held by Council; subject to some exemptions. The Act also gives an individual the right to request that incorrect or misleading information held by Council about them be amended or removed.

Under the Act the term document is given a very broad definition so that it includes anything with information on it or in it. A document could therefore be a file, a site note, a photograph, a map, a post-it note, a phone record etc. If the documents relate to your own personal affairs information, then you are entitled to access all documents in Council’s possession regardless of age. However, other documents in Councils possession are only accessible if dated/created on or after 1 January 1989.

Do I need to use FOI to Access Documents?

Many documents are available outside the requirements of the Act. It is therefore best to speak to Council before making an official request. It is important to note that documents available as part of a public register or available for a fee or a charge are not available under the Act.

If you require documents for a court hearing, speak to your legal adviser about other methods of gaining access in those circumstances.

How do I make a FOI request?

You can make a request or authorise someone to make a request on your behalf. Where an application is made on behalf of an individual a suitably signed authority must be supplied at the time the application is lodged. Failure to provide such an authority may cause a delay in finalising the application and the release of information.

For your request to be considered valid it must:

  • be made in writing (preferably on the application form provided below);
  • be accompanied by the relevant application fee of $29.60 (fee from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020);
  • provide sufficient information about the documents, or category of documents, you seek to enable them to be identified (including a date range of the documents required if possible).

FOI applications should can be submitted at the Civic Centre during business hours or posted to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Knox City Council
511 Burwood Highway
WANTIRNA SOUTH VIC 3152

Alternatively, you can also email your request to knoxcc@knox.vic.gov.au. Please note however, that if the application has not been paid or waived the application is not valid and the statutory timeframe to make a decision has not started.

Timeframe for Council to determine your request

Council has 30 days in which to notify you of our decision on your request. This time starts from when a valid request has been received. If mandatory consultation is required under the Act, Council may extend the period for deciding a request by up to 15 calendar days. You will be notified in writing if mandatory third party consultation is required and informed of the new statutory due date.

Where you are required to pay a deposit, the 30 day timeframe for processing your request re-commences from the date the deposit is paid.

What is the process once an application is received?

Once a valid request has been received, Council will acknowledge the request and confirm the due date. A search for documents will be commenced and any mandatory notification will occur. A decision letter will then be sent to you which contains information where Council searched, what documents were located, any exemptions claimed and access charges payable. Documents will not be released until all access charges have been paid.

If the access charges are anticipated to exceed $50, Council will write to you and seek a deposit towards the charges. We can also work with you in an attempt to reduce the scope and anticipated charges of the request if desired.

The Act does allow for Council to refuse access to certain documents of information. In some cases you may be refused access to an entire document while in others you may be given access to a document with only the exempt information deleted. If this occurs Council will include information detailing why and explain your rights of review and complaint with the Victorian Information Commissioner.

For more information

For more information or to discuss your request, please contact Council’s Freedom of Information Officer on 9298 8014.

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