Freedom of information is a process which gives applicants access to documents held by us.
Which documents are available under freedom of information?
The legislation governing freedom of information in Victoria is the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (the 'Act').
The Act sets out which documents are available, how applications are processed, and what privacy and other restrictions apply before documents can be released.
In essence, the general principle of freedom of information is that all documents in our possession should be available to the public, subject to certain limitations. Freedom of information does not give applicants unlimited access to documents.
There are several important restrictions on the types of documents available under freedom of information. For example, documents which may not be available include:
- ‘exempt documents’ such as internal working documents, law enforcement documents, documents relating to legal proceedings, or documents affecting the personal privacy of other people.
- documents which are already publicly available or available by paying a fee under another Act.
- documents which were created before 1 January 1989.
Unless required by law, letters of complaint are not released where they would reveal the personal details of the complainant. For example, a letter from a resident complaining about a neighbour’s dog would not usually be released.
The Act gives us up to 30 days to provide access to the documents you request, or tell you why we will not provide access. However we generally finalise requests within 14 to 21 days.
If you require the information urgently, please tell us. We will try to process your application more quickly but cannot guarantee a specific response time.
In some instances, older files may be required to be retrieved off-site from archives.. Documents cannot be released until we have assessed them in accordance with the Act.
To avoid disappointment, you should plan ahead and lodge your application as soon as possible.
When requesting documents, make your application as specific or detailed as possible. If you seek a particular document, tell us. This will help us search for the document and respond promptly to your request.
For example, if you seek a photocopy of a specific report, try to tell us the date of the report, the title or subject of the report, the specific address or street the report relates to, or the time period it relates to.
If your request is too broad or not detailed enough to allow us to find the document you are looking for, it may be delayed or even refused.
Part 2 of the Act requires us to publish a document which describes our powers and functions, the documents and information that we keep and the ways you can get access to them. This is called the "City of Yarra Freedom of Information Part 2 Information Statement".
How much does it cost to apply for a freedom of information request?
As of 1 July 2019, the new freedom of information request fee is $29.60. We will not start processing your application until you pay the application fee. In some instances there may be additional processing fees (such as search, supervision or photocopying costs) but we will tell you about these costs, if relevant.
You can make an application by:
- apply online
- downloading and completing a Freedom of Information application form or
- sending a letter or email detailing your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your application form and a cheque or money order covering the $28.90 application fee to:
The Freedom of Information Officer
Yarra City Council
PO Box 168
Cheques or money orders must be made payable to ‘Yarra City Council’.
Payments may also be made in person at one of our Customer Service Centres.