It’s now been more than 6 months since the commencement of the changes to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), which established the new Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner.
The changes included:
- Shorter decision-making timeframes
45 days down to 30 days (which can be extended in some instances)
- Extended consultation / notification requirements
Must consult before decision is made – sections 29, 29A, 31, 31A, 33, 34 and 35 Must notify of decision once made – sections 33, 34 and 35
- Decisions made by Principal Officers (e.g. Council CEO) can now be reviewed by the Victorian Information Commissioner and Public Access Deputy Commissioner
- New Commissioner search powers
Commissioner may require Council to undertake a specific search for documents (including emails)
If you are not already doing so, it is recommended that you seek the extra 15 days every time an FOI request is made unless it is clear that it will not involve any personal affairs information. You should also develop template letters to assist with the new consultation and notification process.