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Freedom of Information Policies and Procedures

Approving Authority:

Council

Establishment Date:

24/2/1995

Date Last Amendment:

October 2010

Nature of Amendment:

Consequential amendments arising from a restructure of Central Administration/VC's office and the creation of new senior executive positions replacing the EDA and Registrar

Date Last Reviewed:

Publication Reference:

Responsible Officer:

Vice-President (Strategy and Planning)

1.

Preamble 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.

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

1.1    obtain access to information held by the Government;

1.2    ensure that records held by the Government concerning their personal affairs are not incomplete, incorrect, out-of-date or misleading.

2.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to this policy and associated procedures:

2.1    "FOI" means Freedom of Information;

2.2    "FOI Act" means South Australian Freedom of Information Act 1991;

2.3    "Officer" means a member of the staff of the University;

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

2.5    "The University" includes all members of the academic and general 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;

2.6 "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.

Statement Of Policy

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

3.1     to the public, access to information about the University's policies and activities;

3.2    to individuals, access to information held about them;

3.3    to individuals, the opportunity to ensure that information held about them is accurate.

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.

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.

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

The FOI Act provides for certain documents or parts of documents to be exempted, 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:

(a) the business affairs of individuals or organisations;

(b)    the conduct of research;

(c)    the personal affairs of individuals;

(d)    confidential matters;

(e)    internal working documents.

Some of the categories of exemption also require the University to decide whether or not the release of a document, or part of a document, would be in the public interest. In considering FOI applications the University is required to determine, in accordance with the provisions of the 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 FOI Act to ensure that the number of documents able to be identified as exempt is kept to a minimum.

5.

Delegation Of Decision Making

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. As such, the Vice-Chancellor is the person responsible for determining the outcome of FOI applications. The Vice-Chancellor has delegated the following responsibilities to other members of the University staff:

5.1    the FOI Officer is responsible for making determinations about release of documents, charging of fees and amendment of records in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act. In fulfilling this responsibility, the FOI Officer deals with prospective FOI applicants and liaises with organisational units concerning access to documents. The FOI Officer is authorised to enter into a confidential relationship with applicants or prospective applicants and will not be required to reveal the purpose of an application, if known, without the express agreement of the applicant;

5.2    heads of organisational units are responsible for establishing procedures 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.

The Vice-Chancellor retains responsibility for determining applications for internal review lodged in accordance with the FOI Act.

6.

Rights Of Review

An FOI applicant who is dissatisfied with a determination about the release of information or amendment of records may apply to the University for a review of a determination. Applications for internal review are to be lodged with the Vice-Chancellor.

Applicants who remain dissatisfied following an internal review have the right to apply to the Ombudsman and to the District Court for a review of the University's decision.

7.

Fees And Charges

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 or remission of the fees and charges.

8.

Publication Of Information

In accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, the University will publish and make available:

8.1    an information statement;

8.2    an information summary;

8.3    its policy documents, recognising that it has an obligation under the FOI Act to publish and make available any policies which, if enforced, could impose a detriment on a person.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES

The University has established the following administrative procedures to give effect to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and the University's Freedom of Information policy:

1.

All requests for information about the FOI Act should be directed to the Head, Policy and Secretariat in the first instance:

Head, Policy & Secretariat
Second Floor, Registry Building
Flinders University
BEDFORD PARK SA 5042

Postal address:

GPO Box 2100
ADELAIDE SA 5001

Phone:

(08) 8201 5172

Facsimile:

(08) 8201 3757

2.

Requests for information about University records and access to information held by the University should be directed in the first instance to the relevant organisational unit or officer for processing in accordance with normal administrative procedures. When considering such a request the organisational unit or officer may seek advice from the FOI Officer. To ensure ready access to information, heads of organisational units shall establish procedures for the location and retrieval of information held in their areas.

3.

Where access is refused and the person seeking access wishes to gain information about the FOI Act, he/she shall be advised to contact the FOI Officer.

4.

A person who wishes to gain access to information in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act shall be advised to obtain an application form from the FOI Officer.

5.

Completed application forms, together with the application fee, shall be lodged with the FOI Officer in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the FOI Act. Application and processing fees, and requests for fees to be waived or remitted, will be administered in accordance with the Regulations made pursuant to the FOI Act.

6.

A request for a fee to be waived or remitted shall be referred to the FOI Officer for consideration and decision. The University reserves the right to request an advance deposit in accordance with the provisions of Section 17 of the FOI Act.

7.

Applications to amend University records shall be made in writing to the FOI Officer in accordance with the provisions of Section 31 of the FOI Act.

8.

The FOI Officer will acknowledge in writing that he/she has received an application, and will specify in the letter of acknowledgment the date on which the application was received.

9.

Applications for access to information or amendments to University records will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act and the University's FOI policy, and within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application, pursuant to Section 19 or Section 34 of the FOI Act, as appropriate.

10.

Determinations about applications made under the terms of Clauses 5 and 7 above will be made by the FOI Officer, and will be issued in writing and sent to the applicant in accordance with Section 23 or Section 36 of the FOI Act, as appropriate. In order to determine FOI applications the FOI Officer shall, upon request, be given access to all documentation referred to in the application. 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.

11.

Where access to personal information has been sought, the FOI Officer will, prior to releasing the information, require the applicant to furnish documentary evidence of his/her identity.

12.

Where the University, in accordance with the provisions of the FOI Act, refuses to grant access to information or permission to amend University records, the applicant may apply to the Vice-Chancellor for an internal review pursuant to Section 29 or Section 38 of the Act, as appropriate. Applicants who are refused permission to amend University records may also add a notation to those records in accordance with Section 37 of the FOI Act.

13.

The Vice-Chancellor will acknowledge in writing that he/she has received an application for internal review, and will specify in the letter of acknowledgment the date on which the application was received.

14.

Applications for internal review will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and within 14 days from the date of receipt of the application.

15.

Determinations about applications for internal review will be made by the Vice-Chancellor, and notices of determination will be issued in writing and sent to the applicant. In order to determine internal review applications the Vice-Chancellor shall, upon request, be given access to all documentation referred to in the application.

16.

Applicants who, as an outcome of internal review, are refused access to information or permission to amend University records, may seek advice from the FOI Officer about their rights to apply to the Ombudsman or the District Court for review of the University's determinations, in accordance with Sections 39 to 45 of the FOI Act.