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Make a Freedom of Information request

The impacts of COVID-19 

Due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19), The City of Casey continues to work remotely as per our COVID service plans since March 2020. 

During this period, Council has experienced an increase in freedom of information (FOI) requests.  

However, Council is striving to meet our statutory obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (FOI Act) and responsibilities under OVIC’s Professional Standards

Council acknowledges that the following have led to delays in the processing of FOI requests: 

  • remote working arrangements 

  • reduced staff resourcing 

  • FOI is not the only function of Council Officers roles and many officers have been redeployed to assist with COVID-19-related duties 

  • a significant increase in the number of FOI requests received 

Council encourages applicants to take a flexible and practical approach when submitting an FOI request with a view to Council being able to efficiently identify and process relevant documents. 

Please note due to the large number of FOI requests, Council is asking the majority of applicants for an extension of time. This is to give each of Council’s applications the due diligence they deserve. The request for extensions is in accordance with sections 21(2)(b) and 21(3) of the FOI Act. 

If you do not agree to the extension of time, you can lodge a complaint with OVIC, or seek review under section 53 of the FOI Act by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on the basis of a deemed refusal. See VCAT’s website for more information on their COVID-19 response. 

Timeframe

In order for your request to be valid, it must be: 

  • In writing
  • Accompanied by an application fee or a request for a fee waiver due to financial hardship.
  • Clear and specific enough so we can search for documents.

We will strive to finalise a request within 30 calendar days from when it was made valid. However, an FOI request may be extended by:

  • 15 days when consultation with third parties is required; or
  • When Council requests an extension with agreement from the applicant; or
  • A deposit may be requested where the search time will exceed two hours. If a deposit is required, the 30-day clock resets and a new due date will be provided once the deposit payment is received. 

We may also put your FOI request on hold if you have not paid the fees.

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, you can access Council documents, unless exemptions apply.

Common exemptions

  • information obtained in confidence (such as the details of complaints about barking dogs)
  • personal information where release would be unreasonable (including the details of an individual's health or financial position)
  • commercially sensitive material

We will provide reasons if we refuse your request. We will also advise you of your appeal rights.

What you can access without an FOI request

Information that you might be able to obtain without a submitting a request includes:

  • Your personal information, such as personnel records
  • Information that is available publicly, such as information placed on a public register
  • Information that is available to buy from Council
  • A list of Council's Prescribed Documents can be found online

Please refer to Council’s Part II Statement for details about information that is publicly available.

Access charges

You must also pay for:

  • Search time: $22.50 per hour (or part of an hour)
  • Supervised viewing of documents: $5.60 per 15 minutes (if applicable)
  • Photocopying: 20 cents per black and white A4 page
  • Access other than photocopying will be charged depending on the reasonable cost incurred by the organisation in providing that access and supervision (if required).

Council will contact you if the estimated access charges will exceed $50.00 and we will ask you if you want to continue with the request.

Make an FOI request

To enable Council to provide you with a decision, you must make a valid request.

We hold many documents over a long period. To help us meet your request, you should tell us:

  • the type of documents you are looking for (such as emails)
  • the topic of your request
  • any specific words that relate to the topic

See a sample of a valid FOI request.

At the time of submitting your request, you must pay an application fee of $30.10

You can pay the application fee:

The application fee is a fixed cost required under legislation. This enables us to assess your application and decide how we can proceed.

If you are suffering financial hardship, you can ask us to consider waiving the application fee. You will need to provide evidence of your situation when you ask us to waive the fee.

To make an FOI request, please:

What happens next

We will review your application to make sure you have included everything we need. We will also check to see if you have provided enough information to allow us to fulfill your request. If not, we will write to you asking for more detail.

When we have processed your request, we will send you a letter outlining our decision.

We will either:

  • release all the documents you requested
  • release part of the documents you requested
  • release none of the documents you requested
  • advise you that we could not find any documents

Reviews

If you are not satisfied with our decision, you can seek a review from the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner. You must do this within 28 days of receiving the decision.

Find out more about having your decision reviewed.

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