Freedom of Information
The Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to request access to documents held by Phillip Island Nature Parks (Nature Parks). The right of access is subject to exceptions and exemptions necessary to protect essential public and private interests. Prior to making a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, please search to see if the information is already available online – from Nature Parks or another organisation.
Making an application
Requests must be made in writing and you must provide enough information about the documents you are requesting to enable us to identify and locate relevant documents. Applications can be made by completing the FOI application form and either posting or emailing it to Nature Parks. Payment of the application fee must be received by Nature Parks before we will agree to process your application (unless a hardship application is approved).
Phillip Island Nature Parks
Po Box 97
Cowes, Victoria 3922
You can make a request yourself or you can authorise another person (e.g. a solicitor) to make a request on your behalf. If the documents are about your personal affairs, you must provide evidence of your identity – for example a copy of your current driver’s licence or passport.
Fees and Charges
There are two costs associated with making an FOI request:
Application fee - this is a fixed cost which is non-refundable (currently $31.80). If payment of the application fee would cause you financial hardship you can ask for the application fee to be waived in full or in part. If you request a waiver, please provide evidence to show why paying the fee would cause you hardship, such as a concession or healthcare card, bank statement, or statutory declaration outlining why payment would cause hardship. We will assess your fee waiver request and let you know the outcome.
Access charges - these costs are set by the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2014 and relate to the costs incurred in searching for and granting access to the documents that you have requested. Current charges include (but are not limited to) $23.85 per hour for searching / supervision and $0.20 per page. You will be advised if the access charges are expected to be more than $50 and asked to place a deposit if you want us to continue processing your request. Approval of a hardship waiver of the application fee does not waive access charges.
Nature Parks can accept payment of these fees and charges by either:
Cheque or Money Order sent to our mailing address above; or
Visa/Mastercard credit card payment by phone on 03 5951 2800 during normal business hours. Please do not email credit card details.
Making an effective request
Nature Parks would like to assist you accessing documents, however your application must be focused and clearly describe the documents you are requesting. Please remember that we are a conservation and eco-tourism agency, so requests that that would take rangers out of the field for extended periods to search for documents because the request is unclear, has a wide scope or long time frames, are likely to be refused.
Suggestions for an effective request include:
- Limit the scope of your request to just the information you really want;
- Be as specific as possible;
- Provide a clear and feasible time frame.
To avoid your application having to be re-scoped or declined, please do not make requests for:
- The creation of a document or list;
- “All documents” within a broad category;
- Documents over long time frames or without a time frame;
- "Documents to include, but not limited to…” or “…and all related documents”;
- Documents that are within the scope of another agency or department; or
- Answers to questions.
How we respond
After you submit a request, we will assess it to ensure it meets the requirements outlined in section 17 of the FOI Act. If we determine that your request is not valid, we will notify you within 21 days from the date we received your request and provide you with assistance to help you make the request valid.
If your request is not clear, is too general, or the scope is too broad we may ask you to resubmit or rescope it within 30 days so that it describes specific existing documents or has a scope and timeframe that is reasonable.
We may suggest that you send your application to another agency, or we may transfer your request to another Victorian Government agency, if appropriate.
If your request is valid, we will notify you and begin processing it.
We will give you a decision about your request within 30 days after it becomes a valid request under the FOI Act. We may seek to extend or adjust this timeframe if:
- We are experiencing a high volume of FOI requests or other impediments to processing your request;
- You submit multiple FOI requests;
- We need to consult with third parties. Under the FOI Act, we must attempt to contact those people and seek their views on the release of the documents. They have 60 days after we make a decision on the documents to appeal the release of documents to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
We will let you know if the timeframe for a decision changes.
If we decide not to release some or all the documents you requested, we will give you reasons and tell you how to appeal. Once you have paid the access charges as advised in the decision letter the documents will be made available to you.
The document(s) you request may contain exempt or irrelevant information. Under section 25 of the FOI Act, we can provide edited copies of document(s) with exempt or irrelevant information removed. However, we are only required to do this if you indicate you will accept an edited copy of the document(s), and if it is practicable for us to make edits. If you don’t agree to receive an edited copy, we may decide the entire document is exempt and refuse access to it in full, even if there is some information that could be released to you.
For further information on the FOI Act and processes, please refer to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner website – www.ovic.vic.gov.au.
Contact the FOI Officer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org