The Freedom of Information Act 1982 ('the Act') gives individuals and corporations a general right of access to documents dated after 1 January 1989, held by agencies like Council. If the documents you seek are about your personal affairs you can seek copies of documents dated prior to 1989.
A document means any written document, printed or electronic, photographs, letters, maps, film, reports, audio and video recordings.
How to make a Freedom of Information request
You can make a request yourself, or you can authorise another person (eg: a solicitor) to make one on your behalf.
Requests must be for specific documents or a defined group of documents, stating the time period and the type of documents (eg: reports, letters or permits). Your request will be interpreted literally so try to avoid phrases like'all documents in relation to'because it may result in you being charged for, and receiving, documents which you do not want.
Your application must include:
A clear description of the documents
A $28.90 application fee or evidence that you qualify for a fee waiver through the completion of the Financial Hardship Application
Evidence of your identity if the documents you seek are about your personal affairs. For instance, a copy of your driver’s licence or passport
Written authorisation when a legal firm submits the request on your behalf
What is the process once your application is received?
Upon receipt of a clear request and the application fee, we will:
Acknowledge your request.
Search for and retrieve all documents.
Review the documents and remove irrelevant material.
Consult with external organisations and/or individuals if necessary.
Compile a determination letter listing the documents which are to be released, which could not be located and any exemptions applied.
How long will it take to process my request?
Council has 30 days in which to process a request. This starts when your request is sufficiently clear and your application fee has been paid. If a deposit is sought, the 30 day timeframe permitted for processing your request commences upon payment of the deposit.
$21.70 per hour, or part of an hour rounded to nearest 10 cents, charge for the time it takes to search for documents.
$21.70 per hour to be calculated per quarter hour or part of a quarter hour rounded to the nearest 10 cents if you inspect the documents under supervision.
A $0.20 cent per photocopy (B&W, A4 page).
If providing access in a form other than photocopying (eg: on CD) the Council will determine a reasonable cost.
Charges for making a written transcript out of a tape based on the cost incurred by the agency.
If the access charges are anticipated to exceed $50, we will write to you and seek a deposit towards the charges. We will also suggest practical alternatives you could adopt to reduce the anticipated charges.
The Act allows Council to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents are often called ‘exempt’ documents or information. 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 which might be exempt include internal working documents, law enforcement documents, legal advice, and personal information about other people, confidential documents or documents which are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislation.
Please do not let this deter you from asking for access as each document is assessed on its merits before a decision is made.