Freedom of Information

What is Freedom of information?

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) allows you to ask for access to documents held by the City of Ballarat.

Members of the public are entitled to seek access to:

  • documents about your personal affairs, regardless of the age of the documents.
  • any other documents which were created on/after 1 January 1989

The Act does not apply to documents which are available; to the public, or as part of a public register; or are documents which are available for purchase.

The term 'document' is broad and includes information in many formats, whether printed or in electronic form, photographs, letters, maps, film, reports, audio and video recordings.

The protection of the public interest and private and business affairs may cause some documents to be exempt from access.
 

Looking for endored plans or planning permits?

Copies can be accessed via the Statutory Planning Department at info@ballarat.vic.gov.au for a fee.

 

How do I make a request?

You can make a request or authorise someone such as a solicitor to make a request on your behalf.

It is important to provide an accurate description in the request 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. Try to identify a relevant timeframe and the type/s of documents you seek access to.

For example, 'correspondence between X and Y from 1 January to 30 March 2005'. Avoid phrases like 'all documents in relation to' and ‘including but not limited to’. If the terms of your request are quite broad, you could end up receiving and being charged for, a large volume of documents which you did not require, or your request may be deemed to voluminous and Council will contact you to consult and refine your request which may delay processing.

Your application must include:

  • a clear description of the documents which you seek access to
  • an application fee of $29.60 or evidence that you qualify for a fee waiver through the completion of the Financial Hardship Application
  • evidence of your identity such as drivers licence if the documents are about your personal affairs
  • your written authorisation if a legal firm is submitting the request on your behalf
  • your contact details including your telephone number and email address if you have one, so we can contact you if we have any queries about your application.

Download the Freedom of Information Application Form

Download the Freedom of Information Financial Hardship Guidelines

Are there documents that I can’t request?

The Act provides for an Agency to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents are  called exempt documents.
An authorised FOI Officer will assess each requested document and decide whether the information can be released. In some cases, you may be refused access to an entire document or you may be given access to a document with exempt information deleted.

Exempt documents may include:

  • some internal working documents
  • law enforcement documents
  • documents covered by legal professional privilege such as legal advice
  • documents containing personal information about other people
  • documents containing information provided to an agency in confidence
  • documents containing commercial information provided to an agency by a business 
  • documents which are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislation
     

Submitting your application

Post
Please complete the FOI application form and send it to:
City of Ballarat
PO Box 655
Ballarat VIC 3353
Your cheque/money order must be payable to the City of Ballarat. Please do not send cash.


In Person
Submit your application and application fee (cash, cheque, money order or credit/debit card) to our Customer Service Team.

Your cheque/money order must be payable to the City of Ballarat.

Online

For online payment options please contact the FOI Officer on 5320 5500.

What is the timeframe?

On receipt of a valid request, the FOI Officer has 30 days to respond to you with a decision. Under the Act, the time period may be extended by 15 days if consultation is required with third parties relevant to the documents requested.    
Where it is anticipated that the costs will exceed $50, we will advise you and request a deposit. You will also be asked if you wish to continue with the request.
The 30 days allowed for processing a request will restart when we receive your deposit payment.
 

How much will it cost?

As well as an application fee of $29.60, there are costs to access documents. The charges are made under the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014 and relate to:

Search charges
$22.20 per hour or part thereof.

Inspection Supervision charges
$22.20 per hour to be calculated per quarter hour or part thereof.

Miscellaneous charges

  • Photocopying charges - 20 cents per black and white A4 page.
  • Access in a form other than photocopying – the reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the copy.
  • Charge for providing written document – the reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the written document.
  • Charge for making a written transcript of a tape – the reasonable costs incurred by the agency in providing the written transcript.

We will advise you of any charges in our decision letter. 
If we estimate the cost of your request is likely to exceed $50, we will write and request a deposit.
 

Can I appeal a decision about my request?

If you are dissatisfied with a decision, you may apply for review by the Information Commissioner.

You must apply in writing within 28 days after you receive your decision letter, identifying the City of Ballarat as the agency concerned and the decision to be reviewed. You should also provide an explanation of why you disagree with the decision. You may lodge your application by:

Email: enquiries@ovic.vic.gov.au
Post:
Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
Melbourne VIC 3001
Fax: (03) 8684 7588

More information about reviews by the Information Commissioner, including a review application form to assist you in making your application, is available at www.ovic.vic.gov.au.


 
Making a Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with our decision that the document either does not exist or cannot be located, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.

Your complaint must be in writing, setting out the nature of your complaint and identifying the City of Ballarat as the agency concerned, and must be made within 60 days after you receive your decision letter.

You may lodge your complaint by:

Email: enquiries@ovic.vic.gov.au
Post:
Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
Melbourne VIC 3001
Fax: (03) 8684 7588

More information about complaints to the Information Commissioner, including a form to assist you in making your complaint, is available at www.ovic.vic.gov.au.

 

Part II Statement

The Act provides the community with a right to access information, unless categorised as exempt, in the possession of the Government of Victoria and other bodies constituted under the law of Victoria. 

Section 7 of the Act requires all agencies to publish a set of statements describing their powers and functions, the documents and information they keep, and the way people can access them.

In the interests of transparency, we have compiled a Part II Statement with the purpose of:

  • Making the community aware of the existence of documents held by Council;
  • Providing the community with the information needed to identify specific documents of interest; and
  • Providing details of how to apply for access to said documents.

View the Part II Statement

Documents listed in this Part II Statement are available for inspection and/or purchase either on our website or by contacting Customer Service.

Requests to access documents not available through the relevant department can be made under the Act. Charges will apply for a requested and supplied document.


Freedom of Information requests can be made by contacting: 

Freedom of Information Officer
City of Ballarat
PO Box 655
Ballarat VIC 3353

Phone: 5320 5500
Email: foi@ballarat.vic.gov.au 

For further information on the FOI Act and procedures please contact the FOI Officer on 5320 5500.
 

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