How do I submit a request to access documents under the freedom of information act?
Any member of the general public has a right to request access to documents held by RMIT.
The right of access exists in “every person”. This means any person regardless of the interest they may or may not have in the document without the need to establish any motive or reason for seeking the documents. The reference to “every person” includes natural persons or individuals as well as corporations.
You can make a request yourself or you can authorise another person (for example, a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf. If you want someone to make a request concerning your personal information, on your behalf, you must give them your written authorisation.
The FOI Act does not apply to documents which are available to the public or are part of a public register and are documents which are available for purchase.
Before you make a request for access
You are encouraged to check if the document you are seeking is already publicly available such as in our annual report, policies and procedures, resources, or on our website.
Where you cannot find the document you are seeking, we encourage you to contact us and ask if the document you are seeking is available or can be provided to you. In many instances we will be able to provide you with the information you are seeking without you requiring to make a formal request for access.
Making a request
Requests for access to documents held by RMIT under the provisions of the FOI Act should be made in writing via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and addressed to the Freedom of Information Officer.
Att: FOI Officer
Legal Services Group
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
GPO Box 2476
Melbourne, VIC 3001
In order to be considered a valid request under the Act, your request must satisfy the following criteria:
- The request must be in writing.
- The request must clearly describe the documents to which you are seeking access to and must be sufficiently clear to enable RMIT to conduct a search for the requested documents.
- The request must be accompanied with the application fee of $28.90
If your request is not sufficiently clear to enable us to conduct a search for the requested documents, the FOI case officer will contact you to clarify the details of your request.
How do I pay the application fee?
The application fee can be paid via cheque or money order made payable to 'Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’. The application fee is a fixed cost which is non-refundable. The only exception is for people suffering financial hardship who can ask RMIT to waive the application fee. If you feel that this applies to you, please state your reasons in writing via email to email@example.com (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 or not.
The application fee is determined in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014. The current application fee is $28.90. In accordance with the regulations, this fee increases on 1 July each year.
In addition to the application fee, RMIT 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.
Where it is anticipated that the costs will exceed $50.00, you will be advised and requested to pay a deposit. You will also be asked if they wish to continue with the request or narrow the terms of the request to reduce costs.
All access fees are payable by cheque or Money Order.
How long does it take to process a request?
RMIT will notify you of its decision relating to your request within 30 days of receipt of a valid request. When your request is deemed to be valid, a formal acknowledgment will be issued which includes the due date of the decision. Note that we may extend the 30 day period by an additional 15 days if consultation with third parties is required.
Please note that in cases where RMIT 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 RMIT, whether created by RMIT or received by RMIT. It includes documents held in files, or records of RMIT, or held by an individual for the purpose of discharging his/her duties.
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 RMIT
- 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:
- confidential matters considered by RMIT
- law enforcement documents
- some internal working documents
- documents covered by legal professional privilege, such as legal advice
- documents obtained in confidence or containing personal information about other people
- documents containing “Commercial in-confidence” information or trade secrets
Exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis. Where a decision is made to deny or defer access, you will be notified in writing of the reasons for the denial and the procedures available to appeal the decision.