Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (FOI Act) gives an applicant the right to request documents held by RMIT University (RMIT).

Making a Freedom of Information request

Anyone can make a Freedom of Information request, regardless of their connection (or lack of it) to RMIT.

Section 13 of the Act makes it clear that the right of access is not dependent on any particular status.

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.

As such applicants are able to:

  • Access documents about their personal affairs regardless of the age of the document and other documents held by RMIT which came into existence not more than 5 years before the commencement of the FOI Act i.e. 5th July 1978. 
  • Request that incorrect or misleading information held by RMIT about them be amended or removed.

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.  

Where a person requesting access is a child (i.e. under 18) or suffers from a disability, the person making the request needs to satisfy the FOI Officer that they made the request as a conscious voluntary act, understood the nature and significance of making the request, and wish it to be done to obtain access to documents.

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. 

What documents are available? 

The right of access extends to documents of RMIT other than exempt documents which are in its possession and which are covered by the FOI Act.  These include:

  • documents created by RMIT, and
  • documents supplied to RMIT by an external organisation or individual.

RMIT is not obliged to provide research information - the obligation is only to provide access to existing documents.

The definition of document in the FOI Act covers a broad range of material in addition to paper form including: maps, films, microfiche, photographs, computer printouts, email, computer discs, data stored on a computer and videotapes CCTV and any other medium used to store information. 

RMIT has an obligation to the copyright holder in instances where a photocopy of a copyright document is requested under FOI.  If copying would infringe another's copyright, access will be granted by permitting the person to view the document which is subject to copyright.

Under the FOI Act, a request for documents must meet three requirements to be valid:

  1. the request must be in writing;
  2. the request must provide sufficient information about the documents you are requesting so RMIT can locate all relevant documents; and
  3. the applicant must pay the application fee, or request that the fee be waived due to hardship.

Note: Processing of your request cannot begin if any of the required information is not supplied.

If you are unsure about what to include with the request, contact the FOI Officer via email foi@rmit.edu.au or phone +61 3 9925 2321.

The request must:

1. Be in writing

Applications can be made by email to foi@rmit.edu.au or by post to:

Freedom of Information Officer
RMIT University 
GPO Box 2476 
Melbourne VIC 3001

2. Identify the documents you are seeking 

The request must clearly describe the documents that are being sought. The request must provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to allow RMIT to identify the document/s. Where possible this should include the approximate date range of the documents.

If RMIT decides that the request does not comply in this regard, the FOI Officer will write to the applicant seeking clarification of the request so as to give a reasonable opportunity and assistance to amend or clarify the request.

If the documents are about the applicant’s personal affairs, evidence should be provided of identity. For example a photocopy or electronic copy of a current driver’s license or student identity card. 

3. Include the application fee

  • Application fee – $29.60
  • The can be paid online, or via cheque or Money Order.
  • All cheques or Money Orders are to be made payable to: 

    RMIT University – FOI Application Fee
    Legal Services Group, RMIT University
    GPO Box 2476, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia

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 a request is made for the fee to be waived, evidence that payment of the fee would cause financial hardship must be provided. For example, a photocopy or electronic copy of a current health care card (both sides).

RMIT is authorised by virtue of the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014 to charge applicants certain fees for access to documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. 

There are two fees associated with making an FOI request:

  • the application fee (currently $29.60)
  • the access charges fee. 

All fees and charges are exempt from GST.

Application fees

  • Application fee – $29.60
  • The can be paid online, or via cheque or money order
  • All cheques or Money Orders are to be made payable to: 

    RMIT University – FOI Application Fee
    Legal Services Group, RMIT University
    GPO Box 2476, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia

Access fees

Access fees relate to the costs incurred in granting access to the documents that have been requested. These fees may or may not apply depending on the nature of the request.

Where an application for access is granted, costs will be incurred by the applicant (in addition to the application fee) to access the documents.

These charges are levied under with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2004 and relate to:

  • Search charges – $22.22 per hour or part of an hour
  • Inspection supervision charges – $5.56 per quarter hour
  • Photocopying charges – 20c per A4 page.

Where it is anticipated that the costs will exceed $50.00, the applicant will be advised and requested to pay a deposit. The applicant 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 can be paid online, or via cheque or money order (as per the application fees detailed above).

Note: Processing of your request cannot begin if any of the required information is not supplied.

If you are unsure about what to include with the request, contact the FOI Officer via email foi@rmit.edu.au or phone +61 3 9925 3180

Processing FOI requests

The Freedom of Information Amendment (Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner) Act 2017 has brought notable changes to Victoria’s Freedom of Information (FOI) regime for RMIT and applicants. The changes come into effect on 1 September 2017.

All FOI applications should be sent to the University FOI Officer who is authorised to make decisions about access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOI Officer then advises the applicant in writing of what documents are to be released or that the documents are available for inspection. Where RMIT claims the documents are exempt the FOI Officer will inform the applicant of the reasons and the section of the FOI Act under which the exception is claimed.

RMIT must make decisions on FOI requests within 30 calendar days, instead of the previous 45 calendar day period.

With the agreement of an applicant, this time frame can be extended by up to 30 days, with the possibility of additional 30 day extensions, so long as the extension is granted before the relevant period expires. However should the Officer not respond within the 30 day period, the applicant will have an automatic right of appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Decision makers are permitted an extension of up to 15 calendar days for requests that require mandatory consultation with specified third parties under:

  • Section 29 Documents containing matter communicated by any other State
  • Section 29A Documents affecting national security, defence or international relations
  • Section 31 Law enforcement documents
  • Section 31A Documents relating to IBAC 
  • Section 33 Documents affecting personal privacy
  • Section 34 Documents relating to trade secrets etc. 
  • Section 35 Documents containing material obtained in confidence

The FOI Act aims to provide the community with the maximum amount of information at minimum expense.

The basic obligations of RMIT include:

  • assisting the applicant to make a request which conforms with the FOI Act;
  • locating the documents requested by a ’thorough and diligent search’;
  • giving access to documents other than exempt documents;
  • notifying the applicant of the decision regarding his/her request as soon as possible;
  • informing an applicant who has been refused documents of the Information Commissioner review process; and
  • informing the applicant of the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (“VCAT“).

Section 25 of the FOI Act provides that where it is practicable to make an exempt document non-exempt by the removal of material then that material shall be deleted and the document released.

If RMIT believes that the processing of the request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of RMIT away from its operations then it may refuse to process the request. Before refusing a request on these grounds the FOI Officer will offer to assist the applicant to modify the application so that it can be processed.

Section 24A provides that if a person makes a request for the same documents on a second or subsequent occasion, after the first request was refused and the decision to refuse was confirmed by VCAT, then RMIT may refuse repeat requests.

Under the FOI Act, RMIT may deny access to ‘exempt’ documents. 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.

Where a decision is made to deny or defer access, the applicant will be notified in writing of the reasons for the denial and the procedures available to appeal the decision. 

The applicant can request a review by the Information Commissioner. Details on how to submit the request to the Information Commissioner can be found at enquires@foicomissioner.vic.gov.au or call 1300 842 364. The request for the review by the Information Commissioner must be made within 28 days of the decision by RMIT’s FOI Officer.

The applicant can appeal to VCAT where the Information Commissioner’s review is decided against them. Details on how to submit an appeal to VCAT can be made:

  • by mail to VCAT 55 King Street, Melbourne 3000; 
  • via phone on (03) 9628 9755; or
  • via email at vcat-admin@justice.vic.gov.au. 

While FOI applicants continue to have 60 days to lodge a Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) review application for an OVIC decision, the time frame for RMIT to lodge a VCAT review application is 14 Days.

The FOI Act provides that where document relating to the personal affairs of a person is released that person is entitled to request a correction where the information is inaccurate, incomplete, or out of date.

Part II Statements

The following statements outline how the University is satisfying its legal obligation to make information readily available to the public.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is a body corporate and politic established by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Act.

The objects of RMIT as provided in the Act are:

(a) to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment of excellent quality offering higher education at an international standard;

(b) to provide vocational education and training, further education and other forms of education determined by RMIT to support and complement the provision of higher education by RMIT;

(c) to undertake scholarship, pure and applied research, invention, innovation, education and consultancy of international standing and to apply those matters to the advancement of knowledge and to the benefit of the well-being of the Victorian, Australian and international communities;

(d) to equip graduates of RMIT to excel in their chosen careers and to contribute to the life of the community;

(e) to serve the Victorian, Australian and international communities and the public interest by:

(i) enriching cultural and community life;

(ii) elevating public awareness of educational, scientific and artistic developments;

(iii) promoting critical and free enquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate within RMIT and in the wider society;

(f) to use its expertise and resources to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia in its teaching, learning, research and advancement of knowledge activities and thereby contribute to—

(i) realising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aspirations; and

(ii) the safeguarding of the ancient and rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage;

(g) to provide programs and services in a way that reflects principles of equity and social justice;

(h) to confer degrees and grant diplomas, certificates, licences and other awards;

(i) to utilise or exploit its expertise and resources, whether commercially or otherwise.         

RMIT has 18 academic schools to provide the teaching and research functions of the University.

The governing authority of RMIT is the Council. Council is assisted by a series of Council Committees. An Academic Board has oversight of academic matters at RMIT.

RMIT creates a large number of documents and records in the course of its work. RMIT uses a variety of electronic document and records management systems to classify, store, access and manage a broad range of electronic and hard copy documents.

Document types

The types of documents maintained by RMIT include:

  • Documents created by RMIT;
  • Documents supplied to RMIT by an external organisation or individual.

The RMIT Records Classification scheme includes the following document categories:

  • Business Development
  • External Relations
  • Financial Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Information & Collection Management
  • Information Technology
  • Legal Services
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Ombuds
  • Property & Asset Management
  • Research & Development
  • Student Management
  • Support Services
  • Teaching & Learning
  • University Management & Governance

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 foi@rmit.edu.au and addressed to the Freedom of Information Officer.

Postal Address:

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:

  1. The request must be in writing.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 foi@rmit.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 or not.

Access charges

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.

RMIT publishes a wide range of material related to its governance and organisation, and to its learning and teaching, research, and engagement functions. These publications can be accessed and downloaded from our website, by using the search tool or following the below links:

If you require assistance finding a specific publication, please contact us.

RMIT is established by a State Act of Parliament. A copy of the latest iteration of this Act – the 2010 Act – is available here. The Act empowers RMIT Council to make statutes and regulations which are also available on the Statutes and Regulations webpage. Below these governing instruments sit RMIT's policies and processes. These are contained in the RMIT Policy Library.

RMIT publishes an annual report, as well as strategic plans and investment reports. These reports can be accessed by following the below links:

If you are looking for information on a specific topic, you can search the RMIT website or contact the relevant area.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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