Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) provides for access to documents held by State and local government agencies. The Department of Local Government and Communities takes its obligations under the Act seriously and is committed to complying with the aims of the Act.
The aims of the
Freedom of Information Act are to:
- enable the public to participate more effectively in governing the State, and
- make the persons and bodies that are responsible for State and local government more accountable to the public.
They are to be achieved by:
- creating a general right of access to State and local government documents
- providing means to ensure that personal information held by State and local governments is accurate, complete, up to date and not misleading, and
- requiring certain documents concerning State and local government operations be made available to the public.
Obtaining documents outside of Freedom of Information
Where possible the department will release documents outside of the Freedom of Information process. However, at times some documents can only be obtained under Freedom of Information.
Documents may comprise any written material, plans, drawings, photographs, tape recordings, films, and videotapes.
Freedom of information applications must:
- be in writing
- give enough information so that the documents requested can be identified (be as specific as possible; include dates or date ranges; include keywords; include as much details as possible to identify the requested documents)
- give an Australian address to which notices can be sent (preferably including a contact telephone number)
- be lodged with the DLGC, and
- be accompanied by the application fee (if one is applicable).
Fees and Charges
Fees and charges are set out in the
Freedom of Information Regulations 1993 (WA). The fees and charges are as follows.
Personal information - no fee
Personal Information is defined as any information or opinion, whether true or not, about an individual, whether living or dead, that can identify or reasonably identify that person.
Applications for Personal Information can only be made by that individual and not a third party. There is no application fee for Personal Information. Certified proof of identity will be required prior to processing an application for Personal Information.
Non-personal information - $30
Documents that are not directly about the applicant are considered to be non-personal information and a $30 application fee is payable. Where documents contain the names of third parties, those parties must be consulted prior to the documents being released.
The department may apply charges when processing a Freedom of Information application. All charges are calculated on an hourly (or pro-rata) rate and are discretionary. The following charges may be applicable:
- for time dealing with the application - $30.00 per hour
- for access time supervised by staff - $30.00 per hour
- photocopying - $30.00 per hour
- photocopies - $0.20 per copy
- for time taken transcribing from tape, film or computer - $30.00 per hour
- duplicating a tape, film or computer information - actual cost, and
- delivery, packaging and postage - actual cost.
Estimate of charges
In cases where charges are expected to exceed $25, applicants will be provided with an estimate of charges as soon as possible. DLGC has the right to request a deposit of between 25-75 per cent of the estimate. Where charges are applied, no documents will be released to the applicant until all charges are paid.
There is a 25 per cent reduction in charges for financially disadvantaged applicants or those in receipt of health or social welfare benefits. Proof of evidence will be required.
Payment may be made by cash, cheque or electronic transfer. All cheques must be made out to: Department of Local Government and Communities. Online banking details are available on request.
As soon as possible, but within 45 days of an application being deemed valid, applicants will be provided with a Notice of Decision. This notice is designed to enable the applicant to understand what information was taken into account when making the decision and will include details such as:
- the date on which the decision was made
- the name and designation of the officer who made the decision
- details of any charges
- information on the right of review and the procedures to be followed to exercise those rights, and
- reasons for the type of access allowed or for refusal to documents.
Refusal of access
Not all documents held by the DLGC will be able to be released with access being refused on a range of grounds. These grounds are set out in the
Freedom of Information Act. If this is the case the Notice of Decision will provide the reason for refusal of access.
Right of review
Applicants have the right of review if they do not agree with a decision made by the department’s decision maker. In the first instance, DLGC will conduct an internal review. There are no fees or charges for requesting an internal review.
A request for an internal review must be received within 30 days of the receipt of the Notice of Decision and must set out the parts of the decision to be reviewed. An independent decision maker will deal with the application for internal review. The outcome of an internal review may result in a confirmation, variation or reversal of the initial decision under review. Applicants will be advised of the outcome of the review within 15 days.
If the applicant disagrees with the result of the internal review, an applicant can request an external review from the Office of the Information Commissioner on contact details below. There are no fees or charges for requesting an external review.
All review rights and procedures to exercise those rights are set out in the Notice of Decision.
Delivery of documents
Arrangements for access to the documents are negotiable between the DLGC and the applicant. Where a large number of documents are to be released and there is no charge for photocopying, the documents may be provided on a USB drive.
Amendment of personal information
Applicants have the right to amend personal information held by the DLGC, which the applicant considers incomplete, inaccurate, misleading, or not up to date.
Applicants must provide details and, if necessary, documentation to support any claim on the information sought to be amended. In addition, the applicant must indicate how the amendment is to be made, which may include:
- altering information
- striking out or deleting information
- inserting information, or
- inserting a note in relation to the information.
Read the Department of Local Government and Communities
Further information on Freedom of Information can be obtained from the Office of the Information Commissioner via the following:
Albert Facey House
469 Wellington Street
Perth WA 6000
(08) 6551 7888
Lodging an application
Freedom of information coordinator
Department of Local Government and Communities
GPO Box R1250
PERTH WA 6844
140 William Street
PERTH WA 6000
(08) 6551 8700 / (08) 6551 1784