Information Commissioner calls for a wide-ranging review of Victoria’s FOI law
Investigation report into delay in FOI decisions in Victoria tabled in Parliament
Today, the Victorian Information Commissioner’s report into delay in the disclosure of government documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (FOI Act) was tabled in the Victorian Parliament.
“Delay can fundamentally undermine the public’s right to access information. The passage of time causes information to lose currency, accuracy, relevance and impact” said Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel.
Between 2015 and 2020, the proportion of FOI decisions made on time in Victoria declined from 95% to 79%. “This is a concerning trend that must be arrested and reversed” Mr Bluemmel said.
The investigation examined the extent and causes of delay at Victoria Police, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, the Department of Transport, Alfred Health and Frankston City Council. The investigation found that the causes of delay included resourcing issues, process, technology, culture, communication and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Information Commissioner made 16 recommendations to address these causes.
The Commissioner also identified areas where the FOI Act itself is contributing to delay and recommended a broad-based review to ensure the Act reflects modern public administration and the digital information environment.
“The FOI Act has not been substantially reviewed or reformed since it was passed in 1982” said Mr Bluemmel. “My investigation has identified a need for the Act to be modernised. A robust FOI system where decisions are made in a timely manner increases government transparency and enhances the long-term health of our democracy.”
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For enquiries about freedom of information in Victoria contact:
Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC)
t: 1300 006 842