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Practice notes

These Practice Notes provide guidance on how to facilitate access to information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and the Professional Standards. They detail:

  • Agency staff roles in providing access to information;
  • Early considerations;
  • Processing a valid request;
  • Making an FOI decision;
  • Working with OVIC regarding FOI complaints and reviews; and
  • FOI exemptions.

The Practice Notes are complemented by customisable templates that agencies can use when corresponding with applicants, third parties, and internal staff.

AGENCY STAFF ROLES IN PROVIDING ACCESS TO INFORMATION

These Practice Notes cover an overview of the FOI Act and VPS responsibilities, Principal Officer responsibilities and obligations

Overview of the FOI Act and the responsibilities of Victorian public sector officers

Principal officer responsibilities and obligations under the FOI Act

EARLY CONSIDERATIONS

These Practice Notes cover the Professional Standards, proactive and informal release and routine requests

The Professional Standards

Proactive release of information

Informal release of information

Routine requests for information 

PROCESSING A VALID REQUEST

These Practice Notes cover valid requests, amendment of personal records, irrelevant and exempt information, what is a document, conducting a document search, voluminous requests, obviously exempt document requests, third party consultation and access charges

Receiving an access request – valid requests and early considerations

Processing a request for an amendment of personal records

Irrelevant and exempt information under section 25

What is a document and what is actual or constructive possession?

Conducting a thorough and diligent search for documents and undertaking internal consultation

Substantial and unreasonable requests – section 25A(1)

Requests for documents that are obviously exempt – section 25A(5)

Timeframes and extensions of time when process an access request

Practicability and third-party consultation and notification

Estimating and calculating access charges

When an access charges certificate may be issued to refer a matter to the Tribunal

MAKING AN FOI DECISION

These Practice Notes cover drafting an FOI decision letter, noting and briefing processes on FOI decisions and section 125 of the Local Government Act 2020

Drafting a freedom of information decision letter

Noting and briefing processes on freedom of information decisions

FOI and section 125 of the Local Government Act 2020

WORKING WITH OVIC

These Practice Notes cover assisting the FOI complaints and review processes

How to assist the freedom of information complaints process

How to assist the freedom of information review process

FOI Exemptions

Section 28 – Cabinet documents or information

Section 30 – Opinion, advice, recommendation, consultation or deliberation

Section 31(1)(a) – Prejudice the investigation of a breach of the law

Section 31(1)(a) – Prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law

Section 31(1)(b) – Prejudice the fair trial of a person or the impartial adjudication of a case

Section 31(1)(c) – Confidential source of information in relation to administration of the law

Section 31(1)(d) – Methods for preventing, detecting, investigating breaches of the law

Section 31(1)(e) – Endanger the life or physical safety of confidential source of information

Section 32 – Document or information subject to legal professional privilege

Section 33 – Unreasonable disclosure of personal affairs information

Section 34(1)(a) – Trade secrets of an undertaking

Section 34(1)(b) – Business, commercial or financial information of an undertaking

Section 34(4)(a)(i) – Trade secret of an agency

Section 34(4)(a)(ii) – Business, commercial or financial information of an agency

Section 35(1)(a) – Exempt information communicated in confidence

Section 35(1)(b) – Disclosure would impair ability to obtain information in future

Section 38 – A secrecy provision prohibits disclosure of the information

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