The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to apply for access to documents held by government agencies and ministers. You can amend personal information about you held by government agencies.
You can request:
- personal information regardless of the age of the documents
- 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.
Note: Adoption records can often be obtained without making a FOI application. Please contact Family Information Networks Discovery (FIND) on the Services website or ring us on (03) 8608 5700.
Apply for information
- Ring the Freedom of Information Unit on (03) 9096 8449 or 1300 650 172
- Email us on email@example.com for an application pack
- Apply online http://www.foi.vic.gov.au
- Write to the FOI Unit at the address listed below.
You will need to clearly describe the documents you seek and include:
- Your full name
- Application fee (if applicable)
- 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. A member of the FOI team can help you make your request.
Mail applications are sent to:
Freedom of Information Unit
Department of Health and Human Services GPO Box 4057 Melbourne VIC 3001
Make 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 a child's information if you are the child's guardian. You need to provide evidence that you have custody.
You will not have access to information on Child protection matters about your child.
Whenever possible the department will make information available. Under the Act we can refuse access to information in certain circumstances. This includes 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.
FOI application fee
The 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, we may charge for:
- Search time is charged at 1.5 fee units ($21.33) per hour or part of an hour
- Photocopying at 20 cents per page
- Providing written transcripts of a recorded document. Costs are incurred by the agency
- Supervising an inspection of documents. Charged at 1.5 fee units ($21.33) per hour and calculated per quarter hour or part thereof.
If access charges exceed $50, you must pay a deposit. In this case we will notify you in writing. You can then choose whether to proceed or withdraw your request.
Timing of requests
We, 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 you need to pay access charges, you will receive a letter from us. 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.
- To help process your application pay the application fee if required, and make your request as clear as possible.
If we are unable to identify any documents relevant to your request, we will notify you within 45 days of receiving your request.
If the information we release contains personal information about other people, we must contact those people. They have 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 review from the Freedom of Information Commissioner. Go to the Freedom of Information Commissioner website.
You must make a request for a review 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.