Freedom of Information
What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (‘the Act') gives members of the public the legal right to apply for access to documents held by Hobsons Bay City Council.
You can apply for access to:
- documents about your personal affairs, regardless of the age of the documents;
- any other documents which were created on or after 1 January 1989.
What is considered a document?
The term ‘document' is broad and includes written documents, whether printed or in electronic form; photographs, letters, reports, maps; audio and video recordings.
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 an FOI application includes information which is publicly available such as; on a public register, and documents which are available for purchase.
How do I make an FOI request?
When submitting an FOI application:
- your application must be in writing and be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $30.60 (fee applicable from 1 July 2022);
- clearly describe the documents that you are seeking access to;
- it is recommended you identify a time period and the type of documents you are seeking to access, for example ‘Correspondence between A and B from 1 January 2021 to 1 February 2021';
- 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).
Where do I submit an FOI application?
Hobsons Bay City Council Altona Civic Centre
115 Civic Parade Altona VIC 3018
Attention: Freedom of Information Officer
Hobsons Bay City Council Altona Civic Centre PO Box 21 Altona VIC 3018
How long will it take to process an FOI application?
On receipt of a valid FOI application, a decision must be made within thirty (30) days. Please note that this timeframe may be extended as follows:
- an additional 15 days if consultation is required with third parties to seek their views on the disclosure of documents; and
- up to an additional 30 days at a time by agreement with you
You will be notified if there is any change to the timeframe for a decision to be made.
What are the charges involved with an FOI application?
In addition to the $30.60 application fee, charges may apply for searching, retrieving, copying of documents and supervising and inspection of documents.
Costs that may apply include:
- search charges - $22.50 per hour
- photocopying – 20 cents per A4 page (black and white). Other charges will apply for documents larger than A4 or which are produced in colour
- providing access in a form other than photocopying – reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing access
- 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. You will be asked if you wish to continue with the application
Please note, all fees and charges are exempt from GST.
How do I appeal a decision?
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:
Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
PO BOX 24274
Phone: 1300 006 842
Further information regarding the appeal process, and functions of the Information Commissioner can be found on the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner’s website.
If you are not satisfied with the Information 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) 9932 1000 if you have any further questions concerning FOI at Hobsons Bay City Council.
For further information regarding the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (‘the Act') you can visit the Department of Justice Freedom of Information website.