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Freedom of Information Policy


The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (“the Act”) provides an individual the right to request access to documents held by a Victorian Government agency. 

The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) is a prescribed authority (or "agency") under the Act. The Act extends to the community the right to request information from prescribed authorities. The "information" sought by an applicant under the Act must be in document form and must be in the possession of the agency. 


This policy applies to all staff employed by VicHealth.

Policy owner

Executive Manager, Corporate Services

Effective From 23 February 2024

Policy Statement

Making a Request

An application must be lodged in writing to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Officer, accompanied by the application fee as set by government.  This request can be in physical or electronic format.  

To submit an application an individual can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by post to:  

Freedom of Information Officer


PO BOX 13137 


The Act requires applicants to state their requests clearly enough for relevant documents to be identified and requires the FOI Officer to assist the applicant to do this. The request is considered valid once scope of request is agreed and the application fee is paid.  

Where applicable, VicHealth may facilitate informal release of information outside of the Act.

If a request is not deemed valid, VicHealth must contact an applicant within 21 days. The applicant then has 21 days to alter their application as required (e.g. by paying an application fee or changing the request).

Once the formal request is made, the FOI Officer must conduct a thorough search, with the process of the search, and the outcomes, recorded.  

If a request is made for documents but the Act is not mentioned by the applicant, the FOI Officer will decide. The request need not be referred to the FOI Officer if the document is normally available for public scrutiny or is otherwise available to specified individuals under organisation’s policy or the law. For example, as a matter of transparency and good governance a substantial number of publications on funded projects, campaigns, research or internal policy documents are available on the VicHealth website. 

Access to Documents

Applicants have the right to request any document which is in the possession of VicHealth, but access is subject to any possible exemptions permitted by the Act.

A person does not have the right to obtain under the Act publications which are sold by the organisation, documents which are held by the Public Record Office of Victoria or documents that are readily available to the public. 

The Act allows for requested documents to be withheld where they are considered to be exempt from release. VicHealth protects its legitimate management, research and commercial interests and the interests, including privacy of individuals, by using the exemptions provided for under the Act, as set out below.  

In some cases, even when an exemption provided by the Act appears both applicable and justifiable, a document may be released by the FOI Officer because adverse consequences of release to the organisations functions and legitimate interests are considered to be minimal. The Act encourages agencies to consider releasing documents in addition to those set out in the Act.

The FOI Officer will therefore consider, subject to the provisions of the Act, any document regarded as possibly exempt and decide whether it should be released, released with exempt details deleted, or withheld (see next section below).  

At times a document may not exist, or may not be able to be found, despite a thorough search, this should be communicated to the applicant in the decision letter.

Third Parties

Note that any third parties mentioned in the documents should be notified as soon as possible, as they have the right to provide their view on whether a document should be disclosed.  

If third parties have given consent for their information to be released, in most cases they cannot appeal to VCAT on any decisions made. If they state they do not give their consent, they may appeal to VCAT within 60 days on any decisions made.

Application Fee & Access Charges

Application Fee

The application fee is $31.80 (effective 1 July 2023).  

The fee may be waived if the applicant provides a statement of how payment of the application fee would cause hardship.

Access Charges

Under the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulation 2014, access charges, which are set by those regulations, may also be applicable.  

This could include charges for search time, supervision, photocopying and other applicable charges. If the estimated access charges are greater than $50.00, VicHealth must notify the applicant of estimated charges and confirm whether the applicant wishes to proceed (section 22(3), Regulation 8).

The standard charges are:

  • Search time – charged at 1.5 fee units ($22.90) per hour or part of an hour
  • Photocopying (if applicable) - charged at 20 cents per page

If access charges exceed $50, the applicant may be requested to pay a deposit. In these circumstances we will notify the applicant in writing. You can choose if you wish to proceed or withdraw your request.  

These fees are subject to increase 1 July 2024.  

Timing of Requests

Once the request is valid (scope agreed and application fee paid) an agency must make a decision on a valid request within 30 days of the date considered valid. The decision period may be extended if we need to consult with other parties, with your consent.

If the applicant is required to pay access charges, we will advise them in writing. They will have 28 days to respond to this correspondence.  

Once processed, VicHealth will send a letter outlining our decision about the request.

If VicHealth are unable to identify any of the documents relevant to your request, where possible we will notify you within 30 days of receiving your request


Whenever possible VicHealth will make information available. Under the Act, we can refuse access to information in certain circumstances. This includes documents:

  • it is an internal "deliberative process" document and its release would not appear to be in the public interest (exempt under Section 30 of the Act);  
  • it is a document that would prejudice or effect personal safety in a law enforcement investigation or IBAC investigation (exempt under Section 31 of the Act)
  • it would be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege (exempt under Section 32 of the Act);  
  • it concerns the personal affairs and personal information of a person or persons who have not initiated the request (exempt under Section 33 of the Act);  
  • its release would disadvantage VicHealth or another organisation commercially (exempt under Section 34 of the Act);  
  • it is information communicated in confidence by or to VicHealth  (exempt under Section 35 of the Act);  
  • it is a referee's report (a particular instance of the preceding category); or
  • it is seen to be covered by one or more of the other exemptions provided. 

Decision Letter

The FOI Officer will issue a decision letter within 30 days to the applicant, if an extension is required for third party consultation, the letter will be issued within 45 days.  The letter will outline reasoning behind the decision to release in part, release in full or deny in full.  

The letter will provide contact information for the FOI Officer to answer any queries about the decision and outline how to make a complaint to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC).  

Reviews and Complaints

Requesting a Review by OVIC

When an applicant is dissatisfied with the FOI Officer’s decision in relation to their Freedom of Information request, they have the right to seek review from  the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC).  

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal  

Decisions of OVIC can be appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Generally, an application must be made within 60 days from the date of the notice of decision of the Commissioner. VicHealth or any other government agency has 14 days to apply to VCAT for review of an OVIC decision

If a disclosed document includes a third party’s personal or business information, the third party has 60 days from the date of the decision letter to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the decision. 


The FOI Officer must retain a register of all Freedom of Information applicants. Details of Freedom of Information applications are required to be:

  • reported to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
  • disclosed in VicHealth’s Annual Report. 


Freedom of Information (FOI) Officer

  • The Lead, Information Management is the employee delegated to process FOI requests received, complete reporting, and provide advice on FOI issues. OVIC has set binding professional standards which should be followed when handling any requests received.  
  • Provides advice and training, reviews FOI applications where requested, and manages complaints.
  • Reviews policy periodically to ensure compliance with regulatory and statutory and legislative requirements. 

Principal Officer (CEO)

Uphold the following FOI principles:

  • The legally enforceable right of individuals to access government information, which should be extended as far as possible
  • Exemptions should be limited and specific, and only claimed to protect essential public and private interests
  • Discretions under the FOI Act should be exercised so as to promote the disclosure of information
  • The public should have ready access to agency rules, policies and procedures that affect them.

All VicHealth staff

  • Cooperate with the FOI Officer and provide relevant documents or advice promptly upon request.


Freedom of Information Officer

Lead, Information Management, Corporate Services

Principal Officer

Chief Executive Officer


Under the Act, a document includes, in addition to a document in writing, items such as plans, photographs, audio recordings, databases etc.



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