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Section 61P - Conduct of investigation

Guidelines

Conducting investigations in private

1.1

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) must conduct own-motion investigations in private. This means OVIC does not publicly comment on its investigations while they are underway, and its examination and other investigation processes are not open to the public.

1.2

However, if a matter is subject to significant public discussion or concern, OVIC may confirm that it is taking regulatory action without giving detail. OVIC aims for its public statements to be accurate, fair, and balanced.1

1.3

In some circumstances, OVIC may announce the start of an investigation or other regulatory action by publishing a statement on its website. This will usually only happen where the topic has been of significant public discussion or concern, or where OVIC seeks the public’s help with the regulatory action.

1.4

Unless there is compelling reason not to, OVIC publicly communicates the outcome of its regulatory action. In the case of own-motion investigations, OVIC sends the investigation report to Parliament to be tabled in accordance with section 61T.

How does OVIC approach investigations?

1.5

OVIC’s approach to conducting an investigation will depend on each matter. Actions OVIC may take in conducting an investigation include:

  • contacting affected parties and the agency’s Principal Officer to gather information voluntarily;
  • using OVIC’s coercive powers in section 61U to compel an agency or other person to produce documents or compel a person to give evidence under oath or affirmation; and
  • providing the agency being investigated a reasonable opportunity to respond to potential adverse findings.

After OVIC completes an investigation

1.6

When an investigation is complete, OVIC must prepare an investigation report which OVIC may table in the Victorian Parliament.3

1.7

During an investigation, if OVIC receives documents claimed to be exempt, at the end of the investigation OVIC must return any originals of the documents to the agency who provided it and either return or destroy any copies.4

1.8

Other (non-exempt) documents gathered for the investigation are retained in accordance with OVIC’s obligations under the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic) and any retention and disposal authorities that apply.

1.9

After an investigation is complete, OVIC will monitor and liaise with the agency to ensure any recommended actions are implemented.

More information

For information on how OVIC supports the welfare of witnesses and other people involved in OVIC’s regulatory action, see OVIC’s Witness Welfare Management Policy.

  1. Explanatory Memorandum, Freedom of Information Amendment (Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner) Bill 2016, 10 (‘Explanatory Memorandum’) 14.
  2. Explanatory Memorandum, Freedom of Information Amendment (Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner) Bill 2016, 10 (‘Explanatory Memorandum’) 14.
  3. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), sections 61Q and 61T.
  4. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 63E(5).
  5. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), sections 61Q and 61T.
  6. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 63E(5).

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Last updated 27 December 2023

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