You can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for yourself or on behalf of others to access documents held by the Victorian Government ministers or departments.

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to apply for access to documents held by government agencies and ministers. You can also apply to 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 (for clients yet to transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS))
  • 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.
Making a request

Note: Adoption records can often be obtained without making a FOI application. Please contact Adoption Victoria or ring us on (03) 8608 5700.

Apply for information

You will need to clearly describe the documents you seek and include:

  • Your full name
  • Address
  • Date-of-birth
  • 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.

Exemptions

Exempt documents

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.

 

Application fees

FOI application fee

The application fee is $29.60 (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 only applying for documents that relate to your own personal information.

Other charges

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 ($22.22) 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 ($22.22) 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

Timing of requests

We, the agency, must make a decision on a valid request within 30 days of the date received.

  1. We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 7 days.
  2. 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.
  3. Once processed, we will send you a letter outlining our decision about your request.
  4. 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 30 days of receiving your request.

Consulting others

If the information we release contains personal information about other people, we may need to contact those people. people to ask their permission to release their personal information. When we do this, it may be necessary to extend the request time frame by 15 days to allow them to respond.

Review

Requesting a review of a decision

If you are dissatisfied with the decision that the department has made in relation to your FOI request, you have the right to seek review from the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner. (OVIC). See the OVIC website for more details about this process. 

You must make a request for a review within 28 days of receiving the department's decision.

The Commissioner can also receive complaints about an agency's handling of a request.

Contacts

FOI Unit

Tel: (03) 9096 8449 or 1300 650 172

Email: foi@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Downloads

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.