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Seeking review by VCAT

Where the agency or Minister has not made a decision in response to your FOI request within time

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (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.

If you have not received a decision from the agency or Minister within the statutory time limit, this is a ‘deemed refusal’, which means that the agency or Minister is taken to have refused access to documents.

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 the Information Commissioner 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 also 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’).

VCAT can call upon the Information Commissioner for assistance or the Commissioner can make an application to assist VCAT. Please note that if you apply to VCAT for a review, the other party to the proceeding will be the Minister or agency to which your initial request was made, not the Information Commissioner.

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

When you’re not happy with the Information Commissioner’s review decision

You may apply to VCAT to seek a review of the Information Commissioner’s 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. For further information on how to apply for a review, please visit the VCAT website.

Third parties affected by a decision to release information

Personal 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.

Business, commercial or financial information 

A business, commercial or financial undertaking may 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. For further information on how to apply for a review, please visit the VCAT website

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