Whitehorse City Council

Freedom of Information

> What is Freedom of Information?
> What Information is Available?
> Do I Need to Use FOI to Access Documents?
> How Do I Make a Request Under FOI?
> What Information is Not Available?
> What Costs are Associated with Making a Request Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982?
> City of Whitehorse Freedom of Information Part II Statement


What is Freedom of Information?

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI) gives people a right to obtain information held by ministers, state government departments, local councils, most semi-government agencies and statutory authorities, public hospitals and community health centres, universities, TAFE colleges and schools.

The Freedom of Information Act not only gives people the right to request documents relating to their personal affairs, people can also request information about any of the activities of a government agency.

The Act also gives an individual the right to request that incorrect or misleading information held by an agency about that individual be amended or removed.

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What Information is Available?

You have a right to apply for access to documents, held by the City of Whitehorse, which are covered by the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI).

This includes documents created by the City of Whitehorse, and documents supplied to the City of Whitehorse by an external organisation or individual.

You can apply for access to documents about your personal affairs, regardless of the age of the documents, and other documents held by the City of Whitehorse, not older than 1 January 1989.

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Do I Need to Use FOI to Access Documents?

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

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

Please note that if you require documents for a court hearing or litigation, speak to your legal adviser about other methods available to gain access in those circumstances.  

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How Do I Make a Request Under FOI?

You can make a request, or you can authorise another person to make a request on your behalf. If you want someone to make a request on your behalf for your personal information, you must give that person your written authorisation.

Applications under FOI must be in writing, state very clearly the specific information that you are requesting and include a $28.40 application fee, or evidence that you qualify to have the application fee waived or reduced.

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What Information is Not Available?

Not all information is automatically available in response to a request for it.

The Freedom of Information Act sets out a number of situations in which a Council may refuse a person access to the documents he or she has requested. The main situations are requests for documents which affect the personal affairs of another person, which are commercially confidential, which would undermine law enforcement, or which contain information supplied in confidence. ‘Personal Affairs’ also includes the name and/or address of somebody who is not the applicant. For example, where an applicant may wish to know the name and address of a complainant, this would be considered to be exempt material under Section 33 of the Act.

These documents or information 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.

Your application may also be refused if it is considered ‘voluminous in nature’, in that “it would interfere unreasonably with the operations or performance of the Council.”

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What Costs are Associated with Making a Request Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982?  

The FOI application fee $28.40 is a fixed cost which is non-refundable. The only exception is for people suffering hardship who can ask to have the application fee waived.

The following access charges relate to the costs incurred in granting access to request documents:

  • Search charges are $21.33 per hour (or part thereof, rounded to the nearest 10 cents)
  • Supervision charges are $21.33 per hour (calculated per quarter hour or part of a quarter hour, rounded to the nearest 10 cents)
  • Photocopying charges 20c per black and white A4 page, other charges will apply for documents larger than A4 or which are reproduced in colour
  • Providing access in a form other than photocopying – reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing the copy
  • Charge for listening to or viewing a tape - reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing or making arrangements to listen to or view (supervision charges will also apply)
  • Charge for making a written transcript out of a tape - reasonable costs incurred by Council in providing the written transcript

Please note, all fees and charges are exempt from GST.

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City of Whitehorse Freedom of Information Part II Statement

For queries relating to Freedom of Information, please contact Jenny Russell on 9262 6337.