The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (‘the Act') gives you a general right of access to documents held by Council. The term ‘document' is broad and includes written documents, whether printed or in electronic form; photographs; letters; reports; maps; audio and video recordings. A Freedom of Information Request Form is available for download below.
Please read the following guidelines before progressing with your submission.
Submitting a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
When submitting an FOI request:
- Your request should be clear and concise
- Provide an accurate description of the documents that you are seeking
- It is recommended you identify a time period and the type of documents you are seeking eg. ‘Reports between Mr A and Mr B from 1 January 2010 to 1 February 2010'.
- Try to avoid phrases like ‘all documents in relation to' and ‘including but not limited to'.
- If your request is quite broad, you run the risk of being charged for documents you do not require access to
- Your application must be in writing using the FOI Request Form provided below and must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $27.90
Forward your request to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Mitchell Shire Council
113 High Street
Broadford VIC 3658
Fees and Charges
In addition to the $27.90 application fee; charges may apply for searching, retrieving, copying of documents and supervising and inspection of documents.
Costs that may apply include:
• Search and retrieval - $20.90 per hour or part of an hour
• Supervision charges - $5.20 per quarter hour in cases of inspection
• Photocopying - .20 cents per A4 page (black and white)
Where it is anticipated that the costs will exceed $50.00 the applicant will be advised, and requested to submit a deposit and asked if they wish to continue with the request. GST is not payable on any application fees or access charges under the FOI Act.
Processing of your FOI Request
Once Council receives your request; the Freedom of Information Officer will:
• determine if it is a valid request
• Write to you and acknowledge receipt of your request
• Forward your request to the relevant area to request the documents
• Conduct a search on Council's Electronic Document Management System (EDRMS)
• Review the documents to ascertain if they meet the search criteria
• Remove irrelevant documents or sections of documents in accordance with the Act.
The Act allows Council to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents are often called ‘exempt' documents or information. You may be refused access to an entire document or a document with exempt information deleted.
Some documents which might be exempt include:
• internal working documents
• law enforcement documents
• legal advice
• personal information about 3rd parties
• confidential documents or documents which are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislation.
FOI Request Response Time
Under the Act, Council has 45 days to process a valid request. This commences from the day Council receives a valid request and application fee.
If it becomes apparent that the access charges associated with the request are likely to exceed $50.00, Council will write to you and seek a deposit.
Appeals and Reviews
If you are not satisfied with the decision made by the FOI Officer, you have the right to request a review. This must be in writing and within 28 days of receiving the decision and should be addressed to:
Freedom of Information Commissioner
Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner
PO BOX 24274
Melbourne, VIC, 3001
Further information regarding the appeal process, and functions of the FOI Commissioner can be found on the Freedom of Information Commissioner website.
Download the Application for Review of an FOI Decision Form (Word Version, 133k).
Information on how to submit your application can be found on the Freedom of Information Commissioner website.
Further to the above, if you are not satisfied with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner's review decision, you have the right to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 60 days of receiving the Commissioner's decision.
Please contact Council's Freedom of Information Officer on (03) 5734 6200 if you have any further questions concerning FOI at Mitchell Shire Council.
For further information regarding the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (‘the Act') you can visit the Department of Justice's Freedom of Information website.