Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you a general right of access to documents held by Council. This includes documents created by Council and documents supplied to Council by external organisations or individuals.
The Freedom of Information Act embodies four basic principles, that:
- Members of the public have a legally enforceable right of access to Government information;
People may ask for inaccurate, incomplete, out of date, or misleading information to their personnel records to be amended; and
People may appeal against a decision by a government body not to give access to the information, or not to amend a personnel record.
- Government departments and agencies are required to publish information concerning documents they hold.
You are entitled to seek access to documents:
- About your personal affairs, regardless of the age of the documents; and
- Held by a Council, not older than 1 January 1989.
The term 'document' is broad and includes written documents, whether printed or in electronic form, photographs, letters, maps, film, reports, audio and video recordings.
For further information regarding the Freedom of Information Act and access to information held by Moira Shire Council, please contact the Moira Shire Council Freedom of Information Officer.
Fees and charges for Freedom of Information
Access charges relate to the costs incurred in granting access to the documents you seek. The charges are made under with the Freedom of Information (access charges) Regulations 2014. They include:
Search charges - $22.22 per hour or part of an hour;
Supervision charges - $22.22 per hour;
Photocopying charges - 20 cents per black and white A4 page;
Providing access in a form other than photocopying - the reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing the copy;
Charge for listening to or viewing a tape - the reasonable costs incurred by Council in making arrangements to listen to or view (supervision charges also apply); and
Charge for making a written transcript out of a tape - the reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing the written transcript.
Moira Shire Council will advise you of any charges that may be levied as soon as possible. Where the calculated costs exceed $50.00, Council may require a deposit before proceeding with the case.
Making a Freedom of Information Request
You can make a request yourself, or you can authorise another person (for example, a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf.
When submitting your request, it is important you provide an accurate description of the documents to which you are seeking access. Requests must be for specific documents or groups of documents, not 'all documents' in a broad category.
It is recommended you try to identify a time period and state the type of documents you want (such as reports, letters or permits). For example, 'correspondence between 1 April 2008 and 30 June 2008'.
Avoid phrases like 'all documents in relation to' and 'including, but not limited to' as these can result in your request being denied for being too broad. These terms may also result in you receiving, and being charged for, documents for which you did not intend to seek access.
Your application must:
- Be in writing;
- Clearly describe the documents to which you are requesting access;
Be accompanied by the $29.60 application fee or evidence that you qualify to have the application fee to be waived (such as a Pension Card or Health Care Card);
Provide evidence of your identity (such as drivers licence) if the documents you seek are about your personal affairs; and
- Include your written authorisation if a legal firm submits the request on your behalf.
We recommend you include your contact details (including telephone and email, if available) to enable us to contact you promptly if we have any queries about your application.
Please address your written request to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Moira Shire Council
PO Box 578
Cobram VIC 3643
Cheques and money orders should be made payable to Moira Shire Council. Alternatively, the application fee can be paid in person at the Moira Shire Council offices in either Cobram or Yarrawonga.
If you have any questions about the process, please contact the Moira Shire Council Freedom of Information Officer.
Freedom of Information Application Fees
An application fee of $29.60 must be paid with any application; however, this may be waived in cases of hardship.
What happens after Council receives an FOI request?
After receipt of your application, an authorised Freedom of Information Officer will review it to make sure all the necessary information has been included and the documents you are requesting have been clearly identified. If any clarification is required, the FOI Officer will contact you.
Upon receipt of a valid request, Council will:
Write to you to confirm the parameters of your request and the statutory due date;
Liaise with the relevant work area/s to ascertain the scope of your request;
Request documents from the relevant work areas;
Conduct searches of Council’s electronic record management system;
Review the documents received to ascertain if any additional documents are required;
Remove irrelevant documents or sections of documents;
Consider whether any exemptions could prevent the disclosure of the documents;
Consult with external organisations and/or individuals, where applicable;
Process the relevant documents; and
Compile a determination letter that lists the documents, or parts thereof, that are to be released, documents that could not be located and any exemptions that have been applied.
How long will it take to process my request?
Council has 30 days in which to process a valid request. This time limit commences from when your request is viewed as sufficiently clear for us to process and your application fee has been paid (or sufficient evidence has been provided to waive the fee).
If a deposit for access fees is sought, the 30 day timeframe permitted for processing your request commences upon payment of the deposit.
Documents exempt from FOI requests
The Freedom of Information Act allows Council to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents are referred to as ‘exempt’ documents.
In some cases, you may be refused access to an entire document; alternatively, you may be given access to a document with exempt information deleted.
Some documents you may not be able to access include:
Some internal working documents;
Law enforcement documents;
Documents covered by legal professional privilege, such as legal advice;
Documents containing personal information about other people;
Documents containing information provided to an agency in confidence;
Documents containing information provided to an agency by a business; and
Documents that are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislation.
Whether or not a document you seek may be considered exempt should not deter you from requesting access to that document.