Freedom of Information (FOI)

Victoria's Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives members of the public the right to apply for access to information held by Ministers, state Government departments and public entities and local councils.

The FOI Act also provides an individual with the right to request correction or removal of personal information in records held by the department.

A full list of agencies and Ministers subject to the FOI Act is available here: Find a FOI entity.

What documents can be requested under the FOI Act?

Under the FOI Act, you can request:

  • documents or information in databases held by the department

or

  • official documents of a minister.

Please visit the department’s overview page for a list of the department’s core service groups and ministers are supported by the department.

Documents available under other legislation

Under the FOI Act you cannot request documents that can be purchased from publicly available database or register or under other departmental arrangements for a fee under other legislation.

To identify documents that can be released to you directly by staff or available for purchase from the department through other means, please visit the department’s homepage and visit the website of the relevant work group that would hold the documents you seek for further advice.

Please also review the department’s Freedom of Information Statement II website which provides an overview of the documents held by the department.

You may also email the department’s FOI Unit at foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au for further information.

How do I make a FOI request?

A valid FOI request must be in writing and:

  • Be directed to one entity (either an agency or a Minister)
  • Describe of the documents with enough detail to enable an agency to identify them (eg include dates, names of individuals, related program areas, references to any articles or media releases)
  • Be submitted with payment of the application fee $29.60 (as at 1 July 2019) unless the FOI request is submitted with evidence of financial hardship.

FOI requests and payments can be submitted to the department or Minister:

Online Victorian Government FOI Request Portal

By email: foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au. FOI Unit will provide BPAY details.

By post:

Freedom of Information Unit
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
GPO Box 4509, Melbourne 3001

Enclosing cheque for $29.60 made out to: Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

For more information about how to make a FOI request please visit the Victorian Information Commissioner’s website on How to make a valid FOI request.

You may also email the department’s FOI Unit at foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au or telephone on 1800 317 531.

What happens after I make a request?

The department will notify you of receipt if you have made a valid FOI request or assist you if you have not met the requirements.

Next, the department will search for the documents or extract the information from a database if possible and appropriate.

The FOI Unit will review the documents to determine whether and to what extent they can be released under the FOI Act. In making this assessment the FOI Unit is required to notify and consult with any private individuals, entities or other agencies that may be affected by the disclosure of information relating to them.

The department should provide a final decision within 30 - 45 days of receiving the valid FOI request, if there were no other issues affecting the due date.

For example, if the department estimates that processing the FOI request would be unreasonably resource intensive, it may consult you on amending the terms to a more reasonable form. The time for consultation is added to the due date.

Access charges

Access charges may also apply for the search and production of documents under s 22 of the FOI Act.

The standard charges as at 1 July 2019 are:

  • $22.21 per hour for the search for documents and/or extraction of information from a database
  • $ 0.20 per page of A4

Under certain circumstances, some of these charges can be waived.

Please visit the Victorian Information Commissioner’s website for more information on access charges.

What information may not be released under the FOI Act?

In assessing whether it is suitable to release documents, the FOI Officer considers whether any material requested is exempt from release under the FOI Act.

The FOI Act outlines general categories of information that are exempt under Part IV. These include information relating to:

  • the personal affairs of individuals,
  • cabinet documents,
  • commercial-in-confidence information,
  • internal working documents which if released would be contrary to the public interest, and so on.

The department is required to consult with individuals, agencies or commercial entities regarding the disclosure of documents under the FOI Act.

Who are the decision makers under the FOI Act?

Decisions are made under the FOI Act by the Secretary of the department or Minister, or by authorised officers under arrangements under sections 26 of the FOI Act.

Decision-making powers and other powers affecting members of the public are found in the legislation administered by the portfolio ministers.

Acts administered by the portfolio ministers are listed in General Orders available on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.

Where can I access information about specific areas of responsibility of the department?

For the benefit of members of the public, the department releases a large amount of information through online and print publishing.

In addition, Freedom of Information Statements made under Part II of the FOI Act provide information about the department and its functions, and show how the department is making information readily available to the public.

Members of the general public can also call or write directly to the department seeking information on any aspect of its operations, including unpublished material listed in Appendices of the department's Annual Report.

The correspondence can be addressed to either the Secretary of the department or the director of the relevant business unit. Guidance on the relevant business unit can be taken from the department's organisation chart contained in the Annual Report.

Contact

For more information about FOI please contact:

Freedom of Information Unit
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
GPO Box 4509
Melbourne, VIC, 3001, Australia

Tel:1800 317 531
Email:foi@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 27 November 2019