Freedom of Information Policy

Establishment: Council, 24 February 1995
Last Amended: Acting Senior Vice-President, 15 June 2015
Nature of Amendment: Minor amendments to policy, deletion of sections 8 and 9 and deletion of procedures from the title
Date Last Reviewed:  
Responsible Officer: Head, Policy and Secretariat

1.  Preamble

1.1 As a body corporate established by an Act of the South Australian Parliament, Flinders University is subject to the South Australian Freedom of Information Act 1991 (FOI Act).

1.2 The objectives of the Freedom of Information Act are to facilitate, as far as possible, the rights of the public to:

  •   obtain access to information held by the Government;
  • ensure that records held by the Government concerning the personal affairs of individuals are not incomplete, incorrect, out-of-date or misleading.


2.  Definitions

Officer means a member of the staff of the University;

Organisational unit means discrete section of the University (eg Faculty, School, Department, Division);

The University includes all members of the academic and professional staff of the University and any part of the University that exists or operates by virtue of, or subject to, the authority of the Council;

University document - the FOI Act defines a document as including: 'anything in which information is stored or from which information may be reproduced.'

This includes written information, information stored in a computer or by other electronic means, audio and video tapes, films and information in shorthand writing or in codified form. The information can be in the form of a complete document or part of a document.

The FOI Act applies to any document in the possession, or under the control, of the University. Such a document may have been created in, or received by, the University. This includes a document in the possession, or under the control, of an officer of the University in that person's capacity as an employee of the University.


3.  Principles

3.1 Subject to the provisions of the FOI Act, the University will make available:

  •   to the public, access to information about the University's policies and activities
  •   to individuals, access to information held about them
  •   to individuals, the opportunity to ensure that information held about them is accurate.

3.2 The University is committed to the principles of openness, accuracy, accountability and responsibility which underpin the FOI Act, and acknowledges an affirmative responsibility to implement the intent of the Act beyond simple compliance with its mandatory requirements.

3.3 To the greatest extent possible, the University will attempt to meet all reasonable requests for access to information and for the amendment of records through its normal administrative procedures, so that formal applications under the provisions of the FOI Act will not be necessary. This has the benefit of facilitating access to, and/or amendment of, information with minimal administrative delay and cost.

3.4 Formal applications under the provisions of the FOI Act will normally only be made if the applicant chooses to apply in this way or the University wishes to use the grounds for exemption and/or the legal protections which the FOI Act provides.


4.  Exemptions

4.1 The FOI Act provides for certain documents or parts of documents to be deemed exempt documents, which means that they would not be released to an FOI applicant. Schedule 1 of the FOI Act specifies the categories of exemption which include information relating to:

  •   the business affairs of individuals or organisations
  •   the conduct of research
  •   the personal affairs of individuals
  •   confidential matters
  •   internal working documents

4.2 In considering FOI applications the University is required to determine, in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, whether any of the documents, or parts of the documents, requested are exempt. To the greatest extent possible, the University will work within the provisions of the  Act to ensure that the number of documents identified as exempt is kept to a minimum.


5.  Responsibilities

5.1 Under the terms of the FOI Act the principal officer is responsible for ensuring compliance with its provisions. For the purposes of the Act, the principal officer of the University is the Vice Chancellor.

5.2 As principal officer the Vice-Chancellor has designated staff, in accordance with Section 4 of the FOI Act, as accredited  FOI Officers.  FOI Officers are responsible for making determinations about release of documents, charging of fees and amendment of records in accordance with the provisions of the Act. In fulfilling this responsibility, FOI Officers deal with FOI applicants or prospective applicants and liaise with organisational units concerning access to documents.

5.3  Heads of organisational units are responsible for the location and retrieval of information held in their areas. If information requested under the terms of the FOI Act cannot be located, a written statement to that effect must be provided to the FOI Officer which certifies that all reasonable steps have been taken to locate the information.


6.  Rights of Review

6.1 FOI Officers will advise applicants of the options available to them, in accordance with the provisions in the FOI Act, for both internal and external review of determinations made.  


7.  Fees and Charges

7.1 The University will apply the fees and charges for dealing with FOI applications which are established in Regulations made pursuant to the FOI Act. The Regulations also provide grounds for waiver of the fees and charges.