Access to Council Information and Records
Hepburn Shire Council makes a wide range of documents available on our website and by public inspection for free. Some information is available in other formats for a small charge (cost of photocopying). The Freedom of Information Part II Statement sets out the type of information that Council has in its possession and how you can access this information. While every attempt is made to provide the documents you request, the Freedom of Information Act does have some limits on access.
Requesting information via a Freedom of Information Request
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (‘the Act’) gives you a general right of access to information held by Council.
How to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request
Before you make an FOI request, please read the following guidelines.
- Your request should be clear and concise and specify exactly the documents that you are seeking.
- Provide an accurate description of the documents you are seeking.
- All requests should provide a time period in which you wish Council to undertake a search within, for example 1 January 2020 to 13 March 2020.
- Try to avoid phrases like ‘all documents in relation to’ and ‘including but not limited to’.
Refer to the Freedom Of Information Request Form for further guidance.
- Note if you are seeking information to support a court case, we suggest you seek legal advice prior to submitting a FOI request as it may be more appropriate to access the information via a subpoena.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (FOI Act), every person has the right to request access to documents held by Victorian public sector agencies and Ministers. This right of access is subject to exceptions and exemptions necessary to protect essential public and private interests.
Making a valid request
Under section 17 of the FOI Act, a request must meet three requirements to be valid:
your request must be in writing – please use the Freedom Of Information Request Form
- you must provide sufficient information about the documents you are requesting to enable us to identify and locate relevant documents. Here are some tips to assist with this:
- Provide an accurate description of the documents you are seeking
- Refer to the Freedom of Information Part II Statement
- for guidance on the types of documents and information Council holds
- Provide a time period in which you wish Council to undertake a search within, for example 1 January 2020 to 13 March 2020.
- Avoid phrases like ‘all documents in relation to’ and ‘including but not limited to’ – they are not specific
- you must pay the application fee $29.60, or if payment of the application fee would cause you hardship you can request us to waive the fee in full or in part.
For more further information on how to make a valid freedom of information (FOI) request, visit the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner’s (OVIC) website www.ovic.vic.gov.au.
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Post: Freedom of Information Officer, Hepburn Shire Council
PO Box 21, Daylesford VIC 3460
In person: Customer Service Centre, Corner Duke & Albert Streets
After you submit a request
After you submit a request, we will assess it to ensure it meets the requirements outlined in section 17 of the FOI Act. If we determine that your request is not valid, we will notify you within 21 days from the date we received your request and provide you with assistance to help you make the request valid. If your request is valid, we will begin processing it.
We have 30 days from the date you make a valid request to provide you with a decision. However, we can extend this time by up to 15 days if we need to consult with third parties whose information may be contained in the requested documents. We may also extend this time by up to 30 days with your agreement. We will let you know if the timeframe changes.
The Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014 (Vic) set charges related to the costs incurred by an agency in granting access to documents requested. Whether these costs apply depends on the nature of a request. All fees and charges are exempt from GST. These costs are in addition to the application fee.
The current rates are as follows:
Search and retrieval
$22.20 per hour, or part of an hour
$22.20 per hour (to be calculated per quarter hour or part of a quarter hour
20 cents per A4 page (black and white)
Where it is anticipated that the costs associated with your application will exceed $50.00, we will notify you and request that you pay a deposit before proceeding with your request.
Collection, use and disclosure of your personal information
Hepburn Shire Council is committed to protecting your privacy. The personal information requested on this form is being collected by Hepburn Shire Council for the purpose of processing your Freedom of Information application or any other directly related purpose. The personal information will also be disclosed to the Freedom of Information Officer and the Governance Officer for the purpose of processing your FOI request and relevant Council officers responsible for sourcing documents and information related to your request and payments.
Where applicants have provided consent to inform Third Parties whom has lodged the application, the name of the applicant will be provide upon request.
Council will not be disclosed to any other external party without your consent, unless required or authorised by law. If you wish to alter any of the personal information you have supplied to Hepburn Shire Council, please contact Council via telephone 03 5321 6413 or email email@example.com
Your personal information is collected for the purpose of processing your request. We may notify and consult with third parties in considering whether an exemption under sections 29, 31, 31A, 33, 34 or 35 of the FOI Act applies. This may involve disclosing details such as your name, the terms of your request, and the documents falling within the scope of your request that concern the relevant third parties.
If necessary, we may transfer your request under section 18 of the FOI Act to another agency or Minister who is better placed to handle your request. We will tell you if we do this.
For more information regarding how to process a valid FOI request please visit the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner.