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Freedom of Information (FOI)

The University of Canberra is an agency subject to the ACT Freedom of Information Act 1989. Any person may submit a request to access a document of the University.

The University has a policy of openness with respect to its activities, and seeks to provide maximum access to its records. Depending upon the nature of the documents, the University may be willing to provide them to applicants without the need to make a formal request under the FOI Act. The University also has established procedures for staff and students to request access to their personal files. No formal FOI application is required for this kind of access. For further information on personal information and how to access that information, refer to Personal Information and Privacy

If you have any questions about making a request, you can contact the University's FOI Officer via foi@canberra.edu.au.  The FOI Officer and team may be able to assist you determine whether it is necessary to make a FOI request to gain access to the documents you are interested in.

Freedom of Information (FOI) Office

Staff who have queries about their FOI obligations or wish to request additional training on FOI should contact the FOI Officer.

Mr Eric Wells
General Counsel
University of Canberra
Email: foi@canberra.edu.au

Further information about making a FOI request is set out below.

The more specific you can be in your request, the easier it will be for the University to locate and identify the documents you are requesting. It is a good idea to include details such as dates, names of people or faculties involved, document types, and reference numbers.

FOI requests should be delivered to the University's FOI Officer or, sent by post or email to the address specified above.

 

There is no application cost for making a FOI request.

The FOI Act provides for fees to be charged for making an application, time spent on retrieving the documents, and copying costs. When fees are to be charged in relation to a FOI request, the University will notify the FOI applicant as soon as possible to provide them with details of any charges and a copy of the University's FOI fee schedule.

The University will notify you within 14 days of receipt, to let you know that your request has been received.

Once a valid request is submitted to the University, the FOI Officer will locate the relevant documents and make a decision as to whether access is to be granted in full or part, or denied, of which you will be advised in writing.

A decision on access will be provided as reasonably practicable, but no later than 30 days after receipt of a valid FOI request.

This time limit for responding may be extended by up to 30 days where consultation with third parties is required, for example where the documents requested affect other agencies, commercial organisations or individuals.

An extension to the processing time of no more than 30 days may also be directly negotiated between the University and the FOI applicant.

Any extension of time will be advised to you in writing by the University within the first 30 day period.

A request may be refused if it is too widely framed and the University forms the view that the work involved in meeting the request would amount to a substantial and unreasonable diversion of the University's resources. Accordingly, it is in your interests to be as specific as possible in relation to the documents in which you are interested.

Particular documents or parts of those documents may also be exempt from release under the FOI Act. The more common reasons why the University may determine that a document is exempt from being released under the Act are:

  • Where release would unreasonably affect the privacy of individuals (including staff, students and members of the public);
  • Where release may disclose the business and professional affairs of a person or organisation;
  • Research information;
  • Where the document contains material provided to the Unviversity in confidence; and
  • Where the document is subject to legal professional privilege.

If a document you have requested is considered to be exempt from release, you will be advised of this in the written decision provided to you by the University, inlcuding reasons as to why the exemption has been claimed.

A full list of the exemptions that may apply under the FOI Act can be found in Part 4 of the Act.

 

Exam papers, assessments and marking guides may be regarded as exempt if disclosure would unreasonably affect the privacy of individuals, or would prejudice or adversely impact on the effectiveness of exam or assessment procedures conducted by the University.

Students wishing to access their exam or other assessment papers should contact their faculty for the relevant procedure to follow, which does not require the submission of a formal FOI request.

From time-to-time, the University may conclude that only parts of a document are exempt and, provided the rest of the document can be released in a form that is not misleading because of the deletions, then the University may release the document without the exempt parts. The parts that have been deleted are referred to as 'redactions'.

The University will comply with your instructions as to how the documents should be provided, but has a preference for providing documents electronically in order to minimise cost and resources.

If you are dissatisfied with the University's decision on your FOI request you can write to the FOI Officer (details above) to request an internal review of the decision within 28 days of receiving the decision. The review will be conducted by someone authorised under the FOI Act to review the decision and make a fresh decision. The FOI Act provides that the University may charge a fee for this review.

You can also make a complaint to the ACT Ombudsman. Complaints to the Ombudsman can be made in writing, by phone, in person or by using an online complaint form.

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the internal reviewer (or the outcome of the Ombudsman's review) you may apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

If you wish to obtain access to a document of the University, you must make a valid request under the Act. To be considered a valid request you are required to:

  • Make the request in writing and state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act;
  • Provide details of where any notices under the FOI Act may be sent (for example, by providing an email or postal address); and
  • Most importantly - provide sufficient information to enable the University to identify and locate the relevant documents.

If the request is not valid because it has not been submitted properly or it contains insufficient information, the University will contact you to assist you in making a valid request.