Statement 3 - Freedom of information arrangements

How do I submit a request to access documents under the freedom of information act?

Requests for access to documents held by the University under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (Act) should be made in writing via email to foi-officer@unimelb.edu.au and addressed to the Freedom of Information Officer.

Postal address:

Att: FOI Officer
Legal and Risk 
The University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010

In order to be considered a valid request under the Act, your request must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. The request must be in writing.
  2. The request must be sufficiently clear to enable the University to conduct a search for the requested documents.
  3. The request must be accompanied with the application fee of $29.60.

If your request is not sufficiently clear to enable us to conduct a search for the requested documents, the FOI case officer may contact you to clarify the details of your request.

Fee and access charges

The application fee is determined in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014. The current application fee is $29.60. In accordance with the regulations, this fee increases on 1 July each year.

In addition to the application fee, the University may charge fees for access to documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014. The access charges will vary for each request and may include, for example, charges for time spent searching for documents, charges per page for providing documents in hard copy format or charges for supervised inspection.

How do I pay the application fee?

The application fee can be paid via cheque or money order made payable to 'The University of Melbourne', online, or by credit card by phoning the FOI Coordinator on +61 3 9035 4268.

In accordance with section 17(2B) of the Act, the University may waive the application fee if payment of the fee would cause the applicant hardship. If you feel that this applies to you, please state your reasons in writing via email to foi-officer@unimelb.edu.au (you can do this as part of your application) and provide any evidence that you believe supports your claim. You will be notified whether your hardship claim has been accepted.

How long does it take to process a request?

The University has between 30 and 45 days from the date a valid request is made to provide you with a decision. The timeframe will depend on whether or not we need additional time to consult with third parties whose information may be contained in the requested documents. The timeframe can be extended beyond 30 to 45 days if you provide your consent.

In some instances, the timeframe may also be impacted by other legislative provisions. If it becomes apparent during the processing of your request that this applies, you will be notified. You can contact us at any time for an update on your request.

Please note that in cases where the University requests a deposit from you for access charges, the 30 day time limit ceases from the time the deposit is requested and then restarts from the time when the deposit is received. In such cases you will be notified of the revised date by which the decision is due.

What documents can be accessed under the FOI act?

The FOI Act covers documents in the possession of the University whether created by the University or received by the University. It includes documents held in files, or records of the University, or held by an individual for the purpose of discharging his/her duties.

Examples of documents that may be accessed under the FOI Act include: emails, reports, meeting agendas and minutes, contracts/agreements, books, maps, plans, drawings, audio-visual media and photographs.

The right of access established by the FOI Act does not extend to:

  • exempt documents as specified in part IV of the FOI Act
  • documents containing information of a kind which is already available for purchase by the public from the University
  • library material maintained for reference purposes
  • documents created prior to 5 July 1978 other than documents which relate to the personal affairs of the applicant. Documents of any age are subject to FOI if they relate to the personal affairs of the applicant.

What documents may be exempt?

Certain documents are exempt from release, as specified in Part IV of the FOI Act. Examples of exempt documents include:

  • documents that would unreasonably disclose information about the personal affairs of people other than the applicant
  • internal working documents (ie. for the purpose of the deliberative processes involved in the functions of an agency, a Minister or Government), the disclosure of which would be contrary to the public interest
  • documents subject to legal professional privilege
  • documents relating to trade secrets, or to certain other matters of a business, commercial or financial nature
  • documents containing material communicated to an agency in confidence, and whose disclosure would be contrary to the public interest by being reasonably likely to impair the agency's ability to obtain similar information in the future

Exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis.