Making a Freedom of Information request

You can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for yourself or on behalf of others to access documents held by the Victorian Government ministers or departments.

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to apply for access to documents held by government agencies and ministers. You can also apply to amend personal information about you held by government agencies.

You can request:

  • personal information regardless of the age of the documents
  • non-personal documents that are not older than 5 July 1978.

Personal documents can include:

  • Wardship records (also known as Care Leaver records)
  • Child Protection files
  • Public Housing files
  • Historical Disability Services files.

Non-personal documents can include:

  • Briefings and correspondence between the department and a minister
  • Data on departmental expenditure (such as spending on office supplies or catering)
  • Policy documents on a new initiative.

Note: If you want to access adoption records please contact Adoption Victoria.

Making a request for wardship records (Care Leaver Record Service)

The Care Leaver Records Service helps Care Leavers and their family members to access information about their time in out-of-home care. 

The Care Leaver Records Service also offers support in understanding the context of the records and can recommend other support services available in the community. 

If you are not being assisted by a lawyer or support service, you may wish to access your documents yourself. Your request for records must be made in writing.

We recommend that you apply using the Care Leaver Records Service (CLRS) application form. If you would like an application pack, along with a pre-paid return envelope, you can contact us on 1300 151 883 and provide your name and preferred email or postal address. You can send your completed application to us by email or post.

You can also send an email or letter to the Care Leaver Records Service explaining what documents you would like to access. An example of what you might request would be:

“I seek access to my wardship records.”

To help us look for your records, please provide all names you may have used, your date of birth and if known, the names of the homes you were in and a rough date range.

Email: clrs@dffh.vic.gov.au

Post: Care Leaver Records Service
          Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
          GPO Box 1774 
          Melbourne Victoria 3001

Downloads

CLRS – Application form
Certified ID Fact sheet
Care Leaver Access to Records policy

Making a request for any other records

Making a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

  • If you would like us to send you an application pack, you can email us at: foi@dffh.vic.gov.au or you can call the Freedom of Information unit on 1300 151 883
  • You can apply online at: https://online.foi.vic.gov.au/
  • You can also send your application to the Freedom of Information unit at the following address:
    Freedom of Information unit
    Department of Families, Fairness and Housing
    GPO Box 1774
    Melbourne Victoria 3001

You will need to clearly describe the documents you seek and for requests for personal documents please include:

  • Your full name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Date of birth 
  • Certified proof of identity.

Please provide as much detail as possible, such as the type of document/s and the date created (or a relevant time frame). 

A member of the Freedom of Information team can help you make your request, please call us to discuss on 1300 151 883.

Making a request for somebody else

You can apply for documents as an agent for another person. A parent or guardian may apply for documents on behalf of the child. You must give the Freedom of Information officer evidence of your guardianship status or your authority to act as an agent.

Downloads

Freedom of information – Application form
Certified ID Fact sheet

Exemptions

Exempt documents

Whenever possible the department will make information available. Under the Act we can refuse access to information in certain circumstances. This includes documents:

  • Containing information provided to the department in confidence, such as Child Protection notifications and investigations
  • Concerning law enforcement and public safety
  • Subject to legal professional privilege
  • Subject to secrecy provisions in other legislation
  • Containing information about personal affairs of another person
  • Containing information about business affairs of another person or organisation.
Application fee and other charges

Freedom of Information application fee

The application fee is $30.10 (effective 1 July 2021).

This fee may be waived if you:

  • Provide a statement of how payment of the application fee would cause you hardship
  • Are only applying for documents that relate to your own personal information.

Other charges

The Act enables us to charge, where reasonable, for access to documents. For example, depending on the nature of the request, we may charge for:

  • Search time - charged at 1.5 fee units ($22.50) per hour or part of an hour
  • Photocopying - charged at 20 cents per page.

If access charges exceed $50, you may be requested to pay a deposit. In these circumstances we would notify you in writing. You can then choose whether to proceed or withdraw your request.
 

Timing

Timing of requests

An agency must make a decision on a valid request within 30 days of the date the request was received.

If you need to pay access charges, we will advise you in writing. You can dispute the charges. You will have 28 days to respond to this correspondence.

Once processed, we will send you a letter outlining our decision about your request.

If we are unable to identify any documents relevant to your request, where possible we will notify you within 30 days of receiving your request.

Consulting others

If the information we plan to release contains personal information about other people, we may need to contact those people to seek their views on releasing their personal information. When we do this, it may be necessary to extend the request time frame by 15 days to allow them to respond.
 

Review

Requesting a review of a decision

If you are dissatisfied with the decision that the department has made in relation to your Freedom of Information request, you have the right to seek review from the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC). See the OVIC website for more details about this process. 

If you would like a review of the department’s decision, you must make a request for a review within 28 days of receiving the decision.

The Commissioner can also receive complaints about an agency's handling of a request.

Contact the Freedom of Information unit

Phone: 1300 151 883
Email: foi@dffh.vic.gov.au

Freedom of information Part II – Information Statements

This page outlines the role of the department and provides a structured means to easily access information about key services, functions and reports.