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Apply for a review at VCAT

Where an agency or Minister has not made a decision on your FOI request within time

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (the FOI Act), an agency or Minister must notify you of a decision on your access request within 30 days, or a longer time if you have consented to an extension of time or third party consultation occurs.

If you have not received a decision from the agency or Minister within 30 days or as extended, this is called a ‘deemed refusal’, which means that the agency or Minister is taken to have refused access to documents in full.

You can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on the basis of a deemed refusal in these circumstances.

There is no time limit on applying to VCAT in the case of a deemed refusal.

You may also make a complaint to us about the agency’s or Minister’s delay.

When the Information Commissioner hasn’t completed your review within time

Under the FOI Act, the Information Commissioner must notify you of a decision on your review within 30 days, or a longer time if you have agreed to a longer period.

You can apply to VCAT for a review if the Information Commissioner has not completed your review within the 30 day timeframe (or any longer timeframe to which you have agreed).

VCAT will treat this as a decision of the Information Commissioner to refuse access to the document, defer access or not amend personal information, as the case requires (a ‘deemed refusal’).

If you apply to VCAT for a review, the other party to the proceeding will be the original agency or Minister that you made your request to, not the Information Commissioner.

If you apply to VCAT for a review we will dismiss your review with our office.

When your disagree with the Information Commissioner’s review decision

You may apply to VCAT for a review of the Information Commissioner’s review decision. You have 60 days to apply to VCAT for a review from the date you receive written notice of the decision.

There may be applicable charges for a VCAT review.

Third parties affected by a decision to release information

Where the Information Commissioner makes a decision to disclose a document affecting the personal privacy of an individual (section 33(3) of the FOI Act), that person, or in the case of a deceased person, their next-of-kin, may apply to VCAT for a review of the decision.

A business, commercial or financial undertaking may also apply to VCAT for a review of a decision to disclose a document referred to in section 34 of the FOI Act (i.e. trade secrets) where disclosure is contrary to the undertaking’s view.

There may be applicable charges for a VCAT review.

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