Monday, 26 February 2024
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The Freedom of Information Act gives individuals and organisations a general right to access information held by Council.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act gives individuals and organisations a general right to access information held by Council. It also provides a right of appeal if access to information through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request is refused.

How to make a request for information

  1. A request must be in writing and must clearly provide enough information concerning the document(s) to enable a responsible officer to identify the document(s). An application form is provided below to assist in making a request:
  2. The application fee specified below must be paid for a request to be valid.
    If you wish to apply to waive the application fee, you should provide evidence of how the payment of the fee may cause you hardship (a copy of your current pension card may suffice).
  3. Send your application to:
    Freedom of Information Officer
    Swan Hill Rural City Council
    PO Box 488
    Swan Hill, Victoria. 3585

Fees and charges

FOI fees and charges 2023/24
Application fee $31.80
Copying – A4 20c per page
Copying – Other Reasonable costs in providing copies
Supervised access to documents $23.85 per hour
Search time $23.85 per hour
Deposit if anticipated charges exceed $50
Anticipated charges less than $100 $25 deposit
Anticipated charges exceed $100 50% of the anticipated charges

How can I make a payment

  • Direct credit
    BSB: 063-529
    Account: 000 00 119
    Account Name: Swan Hill Rural City Council
    Reference: FOI (your surname)
  • By phone
    Call (03) 5036 2333 and ask to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) payment by credit card.

Part 2 Statement

Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act requires all agencies to annually publish a statement setting out the particulars of the agency and listing all documents that are either produced by or in possession of the agency.

Be aware

The making of a FOI request should be considered as a last resort.  Potential applicants are encouraged to consider the following before making a formal FOI request:

  • Explore Council’s website which contains various documents, including policies, plans, reports and strategies;
  • Explore our website’s pages describing our various services and functions;
  • Read Council’s Public Transparency Policy and note the types of documents which may be accessed through informal release;
  • Read Councils FOI Part 2 Statement which outlines information/documents which may be publicly available.

If in doubt, speak to the Freedom of Information Officer about your request before sending the application form and fee.

All requests for information need details about the documents so they can be identified. This includes the estimated date range (if known) of the documents you’re looking for.

If you are unsure about what information is needed to identify your requested documents, the Freedom of Information Officer will help you.

The Freedom of Information Officer has 30 days from the date they receive a valid request to respond unless there is a requirement for mandatory notification to third parties, in which case, an additional 15 days will apply.

Refusal of a request

Not all information is automatically available.

Under the Freedom of Information Act an organisation can refuse access to certain documents. These are often called ‘exempt’ documents.

Examples include:

  • law enforcement documents
  • confidential matters considered by Council
  • some internal working documents
  • documents covered by legal professional privilege such as legal advice
  • documents with personal information about other people
  • documents with “Commercial in-confidence” information or trade secrets
  • information obtained in confidence

What if my Freedom of Information application is refused?

If you are refused access to documents or are not satisfied with the decision of the Freedom of Information Officer, you can apply for a review.

The request for a review must be made in writing within 28 days to:
Information Commissioner
Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
Melbourne Victoria 3001

For more information
Visit: Victorian Information Commissioner
A “FOI Review Form” is available on their website

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