Freedom of Information

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Purpose of this policy

To ensure schools abide by Freedom of Information requirements.

Policy

Schools must abide by the Freedom of Information Act 1982 which provides that:

  • all persons have a legally enforceable right to access documents
  • certain categories of documents are exempt from disclosure.

The only people able to make decisions about Freedom of Information requests are the:

  • Minister
  • Secretary, who is the principal officer under the legislation
  • Manager of Freedom of Information, who is the authorised officer under the legislation.

If a school receives a Freedom of Information request it must be sent immediately to the Freedom of Information Manager.  Contact details are:

Freedom of Information Manager
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367 MELBOURNE VIC 3001

Telephone: (03) 9637-2670 or (03) 9637-1879
Fax: (03) 9637-2730
Email: foi@edumail.vic.gov.au

Rights

Members of the public have the right to:

  • access information that is not exempt and held by Ministers and agencies in documentary form
  • amend personal information where the information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or would give a misleading impression.

Information requests

Requests for information should:

  • be made in writing to the Manager, Freedom of Information
  • be accompanied by an application fee, unless a waiver of fee is granted
  • provide enough information to allow the requested documents to be identified.

The authorised officer

  • must assist the applicant when insufficient information is initially provided so that the request may be actioned
  • will seek a principal’s assistance when a request for school based documents is received and obtain their advice on the sensitivity of documents requested.

Requests to amend personal records

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 also provides for the amendment of personal records which have been provided to the Applicant through the Freedom of Information process.

These requests must clearly state which document needs amending and provide a statement specifying the requested amendments.

Application fee

A fee of $28.40 is charged for a Freedom of Information request.  The fee may be waived if evidence that it would cause hardship to the applicant can be provided.  Evidence includes photocopies of:

  • current health care card
  • government social security benefit document; or
  • documents proving the applicant is a full time school, college or university student.

An applicant may also incur charges associated with searching for and providing access to documents.  These charges are regulated through legislation set out in Regulations and calculated by an FOI Officer.

Parent/guardian access to student records

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 does not interfere with the standard access of parents/guardians to student records and information.

See:

Parents applying for their child’s records through a FOI request must provide proof of their relationship, such as a birth certificate.

Restrictions

Each request for school documents must be considered in relation to privacy of personal affairs.  School records can contain information on members of the whole school community including teachers, students, parents and administrators. Therefore each request for these documents must be carefully considered.

The FOI Unit will work with schools and Regional Offices to manage this sensitive process, and staff and parents will normally be notified when their information or that of their children appears in documents sought.

Staff files

For information about how to deal with staff requests to access to their personal file see: Information Privacy.

Exclusions - School Council Records

School councils are not subject to the operation of the FOI Act. However any document created by a school council and forwarded to the Department, regional office, or school can be subject to a Freedom of Information request.

Therefore school council records must be clearly distinguishable from other school records.

Related policies

Related legislation

  • Freedom of Information Act 1982

Department resources

For more information and contact details see: