OVIC’s 2022-23 Annual Report tabled in Victorian Parliament
Then. Now. Next.
In 2022-23, Victorians made 48,117 freedom of information (FOI) requests to Victorian government agencies and Ministers. This is another all-time record for FOI requests made in a single year, up from 43,978 in 2021-22.
In August 2022, OVIC’s Examination report into privacy and information handling training at Victoria Police was released. The examination found that as of February 2022, Victoria Police had not provided any privacy-specific training for its members for more than a year. The examination also found a lack of resources within its Privacy Unit and Education Unit. Victoria Police accepted the findings of the examination and OVIC continues to monitor the three recommendations it made to Victoria Police.
In September 2022, we marked the fifth anniversary of operation of OVIC with a video of the former Information Commissioner acknowledging our achievements.
In October 2022, OVIC published its updated Regulatory Action Policy, to provide a clearer explanation of the factors OVIC considers when deciding on a regulatory response; information about how OVIC communicates its regulatory activities; how OVIC monitors the recommendations it issues; and reflecting legislative changes.
In November 2022, we published agency guidance on releasing health records informally under the FOI Act, the Health Records Act, and the Health Services Act and releasing local government information proactively and informally under the Local Government Act and the FOI Act. We continued to progress the FOI Guidelines and we published an Overview, Part I, Part IA, Part IB, Part II and Access Charges Regulations.
In terms of information security requirements under the Victorian Protective Data Security Framework, we also published new guidance on Industrial Automation and Control Systems in December 2022 to assist the water and transport sectors.
In March 2023 we tabled an investigation report to Parliament Process versus outcome investigation into Vicforests’ handling of a series of FOI requests. The report found that VicForests focused on technical legal processes above other considerations and missed opportunities to help the applicant make a valid FOI request. This came at the expense of providing fair access to information. The report provided important lessons for all agencies about the importance of focusing on the objects of the FOI Act.
In February 2023, we refreshed our website guidance on how to make a FOI complaint informed by research conducted into how members of the community use our website in 2022. In addition, four new secure forms were added to the site to ensure more robust security protocols for the submission of sensitive personal and agency data to OVIC.
In 2022-23, attendance continued to grow at OVIC’s events, forums and webinars with record numbers attending Privacy Awareness Week. 1,194 people attended, an increase of 68%, and Victorian Privacy Network attendance rates increased by 63%. During 2022-23 our eLearning modules were completed over 6,200 times by Victorian Public sector agency staff.
In 2023-24 we look forward to the review of the Victorian FOI Act by the Victorian Parliament’s Integrity and Oversight Committee. As foreshadowed in our 2023-24 regulatory action priorities, we will continue to strive for consistent compliance, reduce risks where possible, improve information governance under all circumstances, and promote privacy in a data-driven age.