The following answers to a series of frequently asked questions related to requesting information held by the Department through the Freedom of Information Act 1982 are included to help you through this process.
Department staff seeking information about processing Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, see: Freedom of Information (School Policy And Advisory Guide)
Frequently Asked Questions
What documents are accessible under FOI?
You can apply for access to documents about your personal affairs, regardless of their age, and documents of a non-personal nature, not older than 5 July 1978.
Under the FOI Act, 'documents' include written documents, maps, films, microfiche, photographs, computer printouts, emails, computer discs, tape recordings and videotapes.
Are there any documents which are not available under FOI?
The FOI Act sets out a number of situations in which a department may refuse a person access to the documents they have requested. Some documents you may not be able to access include:
- those which affect the personal affairs of another person
- those which are commercially confidential
- those which would undermine law enforcement or are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislations
- those which contain information supplied in confidence
- Cabinet documents
- some internal working documents
- those covered by legal professional privilege, such as legal advice
However, each document is assessed on its merits before a decision is made.
How do I make an FOI request?
Your application must be in writing and clearly describe the documents you are requesting access to. An application fee applies. (Please refer to the question below for more information about fees and charges.)
For personal records you should provide with your request some proof of identity (for example, a photocopy of your driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or a statutory declaration). Parents applying for their child’s records must provide a birth certificate as proof of their relationship.
FOI requests to the Department must be directed to:
Freedom of Information Manager
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367 MELBOURNE VIC 3001
Telephone: 9637 2670 or 9947 1879
Fax: 9637 2730
All FOI requests are acknowledged by the FOI Unit.
Do I have to pay to get the documents I want?
An application fee of $27.90 is required under the FOI Act to accompany each request (fee changed from 1 July 2016). Access charges such as search and retrieval charges and photocopying charges may also be payable. You will be notified of these charges when your request has been processed.
The application fee or access charges may be waived in certain circumstances if payment would cause hardship. Evidence of hardship must be provided before the application fee will be waived. Evidence may be in the form of a certified copy of a current health care card or other documentation which shows that you are in receipt of any Centrelink benefit.
Do all charges have to be paid by the applicant before access is given to documents?
All charges (other than those for supervising the inspection of documents) must be paid before the applicant is given access to documents.
Can someone else make an FOI request on my behalf?
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 should give them your written authorisation. The authorisation should be signed and dated. If the request involves personal information, the person making the request must provide some proof of your identity (for example, a photocopy of your driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or a statutory declaration).
Can I get access to the information I want without making an FOI request?
In some instances information may be accessed without making an FOI request. For instance, documents related to curriculum and your academic results can be accessed through your school. If the documentation you are seeking is held by a school but not made available from the school you will need to make an FOI request.
I want a copy of my school reports. How do I get them?
If your school still operates, approach the school directly. If your school has closed, you should write to the Archives and Records team via email@example.com
I am an employee of the Department and I was sent for a medical examination. How can I can I get a copy of the report?
If you are a current employee and are seeking only a copy of the medical report, you can make an FOI request for this document. No fee will be required. However, if you want a medical report plus other documents, your request will be treated as a standard FOI request for which a fee will be required.
How will I know when a decision has been made and what it is?
Once the Department receives your request, an FOI Officer will review it to make sure that all the necessary information has been included and the documents you are requesting have been clearly identified. The Department will write to you if any further information is required. When your request has been processed, you will be sent an access decision in the form of a letter.
If the Department refuses you access to any documents or parts of any documents, the written notice will provide you with the reasons for the decision. It will also explain your rights of review.
The FOI Act requires the Department to complete your request within 45 days from the date that it was received. This time limit only applies if your request is sufficiently clear for the FOI and Privacy Unit to process it and the application fee has been paid or waived.
What can I do if I am not happy with the decision?
Any Applicant who is dissatisfied with a decision not to release documents may seek a review of the decision by the Freedom of Information Commissioner.
Applicants may also make a complaint to the Freedom of Information Commissioner where documents do not exist, or in the event that they are dissatisfied with any aspect of the Department's handling of their FOI request.
Applicants may apply for a review by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal where the Department has not provided a decision within 45 days, or where they are dissatisfied with a review decision made by the Freedom of Information Commissioner
Where can I get more information?
For more information about Freedom of Information in Victoria please refer to the State Government's FOI website
For more information about requesting information held by the Department through the FOI Act, please contact the FOI Unit:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
phone: 9637 2670 or 9947 1879