Making a Freedom of Information request
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to apply to access documents held by government agencies and ministers and amend personal information about you held by government agencies.
You can request any kind of personal information regardless of the age of the documents and any non-personal documents that are not older than 5 July 1978.
Personal documents can include:
- Ward of the state/Child protection files
- Disability services client files
- Public housing loan and tenancy files
Non-personal documents can include:
- Advice provided to the department by external service providers
- Data on departmental spending such as office supplies and catering
- Briefings and correspondence between the department and a minister
- Policy documents on a new initiative.
Applying for information
Contact the Freedom of Information Unit on (03) 9096 8449 or 1300 650 172 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an application pack OR
Apply online http://www.foi.vic.gov.au OR
Write to the FOI Unit at the address listed below. Clearly describe the documents you seek and include your full name, address and date-of-birth, the application fee (if applicable) and certified proof of identity if the request is for personal records.
It helps to provide as much detail as possible, such as the type of document, the date produced and its agency reference number.
The FOI team in the department can help you make your request.
Send applications to:
Freedom of Information Unit
Department of Health and Human ServicesGPO Box 4057Melbourne VIC 3001
Adoption records are often able to be obtained without making a FOI application. For more information about obtaining adoption records, please contact Family Information Networks Discovery (FIND) on (03) 8608 5700.
Making a request for somebody else
You can apply for documents as an agent for another person. A parent or guardian may apply for documents on behalf of the child. You must give the FOI officer evidence of your guardianship status or your authority to act as an agent.
You can apply for the information of your children if you are the child's guardian, you provide evidence of this and you have custody. You will not be able to access any information related to who reported a Child protection matter to the department regarding your child.
This department will, whenever possible, make information available. Under the Act we can refuse access to information in certain circumstances including documents:
- Containing information provided to the department in confidence, such as Child protection notifications and investigations
- Concerning law enforcement and public safety
- Subject to legal professional privilege
- Subject to secrecy provisions in other legislation
- Containing information about personal affairs of another person
- Containing information about business affairs of another person or organisation.
The FOI application fee is $28.40 (effective 1 July 2017).
This fee may be waived if you:
- Provide a statement of how payment of the application fee would cause you hardship
- Are a former ward of the state and want to access only your own information.
The law enables us to charge, where reasonable, for access to documents, depending on the nature of the request, including:
- Search time - charged at 1.5 fee units ($21.33) per hour or part of an hour
- Photocopying - 20 cents per page
- Providing written transcripts of a recorded document - reasonable costs incurred by the agency
- Supervising an inspection of documents - charged at 1.5 fee units ($21.33) per hour to be calculated per quarter hour or part thereof.
If access charges exceed $50, you must pay a deposit. If so, we will notify you in writing to enable you to choose whether to proceed or pay or withdraw your request.
Timing of requests
Under the law, the agency must make a decision on a valid request within 45 days of the date received (30 days as of 1 September 2017).
We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 7 days.
If we believe you need to pay access charges, you will receive a letter and you can dispute the charges. You must respond to this letter within 28 days.
Once processed, we will send you a letter outlining our decision about your request.
You can help us by paying the application fee if required and making your request as clear as possible.
We must notify you within 45 days of receiving your request if we are unable to identify any relevant documents.
If we release information to you that contains personal information about other people, we must contact those people and give them 60 days to appeal the release of their details to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Requesting a review of a decision
You have the right to seek a review from the Freedom of Information Commissioner (see http://foicommissioner.vic.gov.au/). Requests for a review must be made within 28 days of receiving the department's decision.
If you are seeking a review of the FOI Commissioner's decision, contact VCAT (see http://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/).
The Commissioner can also receive complaints about an agency's handling of a request.
Freedom of information Part II - Information Statements
This page outlines the role of the department and provides a structured means to easily access information about key services, functions and reports.