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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.

The 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

Proactive and informal release

These practice notes cover informal and proactive release generally, and also provide sector specific guidance

Proactive release of information

Informal release of information

Releasing Council information proactively and informally under the Local Government Act 2020 and Freedom of Information Act 1982

Release of health records held by Victorian public sector agencies

Early considerations

These practice notes cover early considerations including information on the Professional Standards and routine requests

The Professional Standards

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

Practice note 3 – Receiving an access request – valid requests and early considerations

Practice note 4 – Processing a request for an amendment of personal records

Practice note 5 – Irrelevant and exempt information under section 25

Practice note 8 – Timeframes and extensions of time when process an access request

Practice note 9 – What is a document and what is actual or constructive possession?

Practice note 10 – Conducting a thorough and diligent search for documents and undertaking internal consultation

Practice note 11 – Estimating and calculating access charges

Practice note 12 – Practicability and third-party consultation and notification

Practice note 13 – Substantial and unreasonable requests – section 25A(1)

Practice note 14 – Requests for documents that are obviously exempt – section 25A(5)

Practice note 22 – When an access charges certificate may be issued to refer a matter to VCAT

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

Guidelines for agencies on receiving and using marked-up documents provided with an OVIC Notice of Decision

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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