Freedom of Information

What is Freedom of Information?

The Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI  Act) gives people a right to access information held by State and Local Government agencies, including information about the activities of the agency and an individual’s personal affairs. The FOI Act also gives an individual the right to request that incorrect or misleading personal information held by an agency about that individual be amended or removed.

What information is available?

You have a right to apply for access to documents that are in existence created by the Gannawarra Shire Council as well as documents supplied to the Gannawarra Shire Council by an external organisation or individual that are not older than 1 January 1989.

You can apply for access to documents about your personal affairs regardless of the age of the documents.

Do I need to use FOI to Access Documents?

Many documents are available outside the requirements of the FOI Act. In these instances the request will not be processed under FOI.

Information which you may obtain without a FOI application includes information which is available publicly, such as on a public register and information which is available for purchase.

If you are unsure as to whether documents are available outside the requirements of the FOI Act, please contact Council’s FOI Officer on (03) 5450 9333.

How to make a valid FOI Request

Requests must be in writing and accompanied by an application fee of $28.90 (cheque or cash) or evidence that the fee can be waived. If you are requesting the fee to be waived, you must submit a copy of a current Health Care or Pension Concession card with your request. You can authorise another person to make a request on your behalf by giving that person your written authorisation.

Requests can be provided in person or forwarded by mail, email or facsimile. Your request must clearly describe the document(s) being sought, how you wish to access the documents (eg copy or inspection) and contact information for receiving documents. Click here(DOC, 30KB) if you would like to download a FOI Request Form. Completed requests, including application fee should be forwarded to:

Freedom of Information Officer

Gannawarra Shire Council

47 Victoria Street (PO Box 287)

Kerang Vic 3579

Facsimile – (03) 5450 3023

*Email – council@gannawarra.vic.gov.au

*Email requests will become valid on receipt of the application fee

If a request does not comply with the requirements of the FOI Act, Council’s FOI Officer can provide advice and assist you to formulate a valid request.

If your request relates to the amendment of your own personal information held by us, you need to provide the following in writing:

  • the document or official document containing the record of personal information that is claimed to require amendment; and
  • the information that is claimed to be incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading; and
  • whether the information is claimed to be incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading; and
  • your reasons for so claiming; and
  • the amendment requested by you.

No charges apply to requests for the correction or amendment of your own personal information.

What information is not available?

You can ask for access to any document held by Gannawarra Shire Council but the FOI Act sets out a number of situations in which Council may refuse a person access to the documents requested, these are referred to ‘exempt’ documents. In some cases you may be refused an entire document, alternatively you may be given access to a document with exempt information deleted.

Common exemptions include documents that affect the personal affairs of another person, are commercially confidential, would undermine law enforcement or contain information supplied in confidence. ‘Personal Affairs’ also includes the name and/or address of someone who is not the applicant.

What costs are associated with making a request under the FOI Act?

Apart from the application fee, currently $28.90, a range of charges apply when access to documents is granted:

Search of documents:

$21.67 per hour or part thereof

Supervised inspection of documents:

$5.40 per ¼ hour or part thereof

Photocopying of documents (black and white):

20 cents per A4 page, 40 cents per A3 page

Photocopying of documents (colour):

40 cents per A4 page, 80 cents per A3 page

Providing access in a form other than photocopying:

The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the copy

Charge for arrangements to hear or view sound or visual image:

The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in making the arrangements

Charge for making a written transcript out of a tape:

The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the written transcript

Charge for providing a written document

The reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the written document

 

As your request progresses, you will be advised of applicable charges, including if a deposit is required (where it is estimated that charges will exceed $50.00). Documents are not provided until all applicable charges are paid.

When will I receive the documents?

The FOI Act requires agencies to complete requests within 30 days from the date they were received. This 30 timeframe may be extended by not more than 15 days if consultation is required under a number of sections of the Act and/or by not more than 30 days at a time with the agreement of the Applicant.

When your request has been processed, you will be sent a letter with our decision to:

  • Release all the documents you requested
  • Release part of the documents you requested
  • Release none of the documents you requested.

If we did not identify any relevant documents, you will be notified within 30 days of us receiving your request.

What decisions can I have reviewed?

You may appeal if you are not happy with a decision made about your request for information, the amount you have been charged or the time taken to process your request. You may also appeal decisions refusing to amend information about you that you think is incorrect, out of date or misleading and if you believe we have released personal information affecting you, or information you have provided about your business and commercial affairs, to another person who has made a FOI request for the information.

If you are not happy with a decision or another aspect of your FOI request, contact Council’s FOI Officer. If the matter is still not resolved, you can contact the FOI Commissioner or appeal to VCAT. Information on external reviews and appeals is available on the Freedom of Information website, www.foi.vic.gov.au.

Part II Statement

Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 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 FOI 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.

Click here(PDF, 589KB) to view Council’s Information Statements.

For any further information, please contact Council's FOI Officer on (03) 5450 9333.