Freedom of Information (FOI) gives you a legal right of access to documents in our possession, created on or after 1 January 1989.
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the Act) has four basic principles:
- The public has a legal right of access to information
- Government agencies are required to publish information concerning the documents they hold
- You may request that inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date or misleading information in your personal records be amended
- You may appeal against a decision not to give access to the information or not to amend a personal record.
The protection of the public interest and private and business affairs may cause some documents to be exempted from access.
Making a Freedom of Information request
In order to access documents in our possession you are not necessarily required to go through the FOI process.
Information which is already publicly available, required to be made publicly available or which is available for purchase does not require an FOI application. Before lodging a FOI application, you can contact the relevant Council department to find out if you can get the information you need without completing an application.
How to apply
The Act sets out three requirements that need to be satisfied before an FOI application becomes valid. A request will need to:
- be in writing
- be accompanied by a $27.90 application fee (this fee may be waived or reduced if payment will cause hardship)
- clearly describe the documents requesting access to
Depending on the nature of the request, an FOI application may also incur access charges.
Completing an application
To make an FOI application, you will need to complete a Freedom of Information Application Form (doc, 313KB).
To speed up processing of your request, provide with your application:
- an accurate description of the documents you are seeking access to. Requests must be for specific documents or groups of documents, not 'all documents' in a broad category. Avoid phrases like 'all documents in relation to' and 'including but not limited to'
- evidence of your identity (such as a drivers licence) if the documents sought is about your own personal affairs
- written authorisation if a legal firm submits the request on the applicant's behalf
Due to copyright laws, certain documents (e.g. architectural plans) are not able to be copied without the owner's permission and therefore are only available through inspection.
For more information on making an FOI application, including what documents can or cannot be accessed, please see the our Part II Statement (doc, 940KB).
Once your application is received
Once we receive your application, our FOI Officer will determine if it is a valid request. If we have any questions about your request we will contact you.
When our FOI Officer receives a valid request, we will complete your application within 45 days from the date that it was received.
The FOI Officer will work with our relevant departments to locate documents requested. We will also search our record management system. Once all documents in our possession related to the request are located, the FOI Officer will review the documents to remove any irrelevant documents or irrelevant sections of the document and consider if any exemptions apply.
Following the processing of documents, a letter is sent to you advising the FOI Officer's final decision on whether to release all, part or none of the documents requested. The letter will also detail any exemptions that have been applied and rights to appeal under the Act.
Part II Statements
It is a requirement under the Act that we publish a Freedom of Information Act Part II Statement (doc, 940KB). Part II Statements are a series of statements outlining our functions and decision making powers, documents maintained and publicly available, subscriptions, mailing lists, libraries, advisory boards and committees, and the procedure for requesting access to documents held by us.