Mick Batskos - Executive Director
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Welcome to FOI Solutions!

FOI Solutions is a unique legal and consulting firm. We provide solutions to government law problems, including in freedom of information (“FOI”) and privacy, encountered by government agencies at all levels in Australia.

We aim to provide the most:

  • cost effective
  • legally accurate
  • timely and responsive
  • reliable
  • practical and relevant,

legal and related services. We add value to government agencies needing assistance with government law issues including FOI and privacy.  FOI Solutions is an Accredited Specialist law firm in the area of government law (administrative law) with 2 of the 22 Victorian Accredited Specialists in Administrative Law. Find out more about the services FOI Solutions provides by browsing our web site.  To view our privacy policy, click here.

 

Announcements and Recent Developments

Principal Officer Kit

The Professional Standards commending on 2 December 2019 impact significantly on the obligations which exist on "principal officers" of agencies.  Unfortunately, there is still much confusion and uncertainty in agencies about who their "principal officer" is. Compounding this is that many "principal officers" do not even know they are the "principal officer" of an agency with extensive obligations under the FOI Act and Professional Standards.

As a result, FOI Solutions is proud to announce the re-launch of its Principal Officer Information Kit.  This updated version has extenstive changes to reflect the Professional Standards and includes:

  • an easy to follow flow chart to work out who is your "principal officer"
  • an executive summary
  • a detailed description of the powers, functions, obligations and duties on "principal officers"
  • supporting resource material.

Don't forget, non-compliance with legal requirements in the Professional Standards and the FOI Act can cause complaints, investigations by the Information Commissioner, and organisational embarasssment as well as unlawful decision-making.  For more information or to order your copy, please click here.

Training sessions update

FOI Solutions has recently announced some further training sessions on interesting and very topical matters relevant to all Victorian FOI decision makers to be held on 12 November 2019.  They include:

  • FOI Professional Standards: Are you ready?;
  • Recent trends in the personal affairs exemption.

We are also conducting on 15 November 2019 our most popluar sessions for all Victorian FOI decision makers being our basic and intermediate training sessions.  They have been updated to include necessary references to the Professional Standards.  Thes sessions aim to provide a great grounding for any person new to FOI processing and decision-making, as well as providing an important update and refresher to even the most experienced decision-maker. 

To ensure clients are up-to-date on the introduction of the public interest disclosures regime commencing on 1 January 2020, FOI Solutions has also developed an important, informative and practical session on what those changes will mean. To book or for more information about this lunchtime session on 14 November 2019, click here.

For more information click on the "Training" tab or click here . Don't forget to visit our Training page from time to time as new and different sessions in FOI, privacy and public interest (protected disclosures) law are added.

FOI Solutions appointed to Commonweatlh Legal Services Panel

We are proud to announce that FOI Solutions was, with effect from 15 August 2019, appointed to the Commonwealth Legal Services Panel for the areas of:

  • Freedom of information;
  • Privacy; and
  • Public interest disclosures.

We are one of only a limited number of law firms appointed to the Panel and can continue to provide our expert, specialised administrative law services to Commonwealth Government agencies signing up to those arrangements.

New website coming soon

We are working hard to finalise and launch out new website.  We are on track to complete this before Christmas and look forward to receiving any feedback.  If you want to have a say in what you would like to see on our website, click here and let us know.  We would love to hear from you.

Victorian FOI Application Fee amendment

From 1 July 2019 the application fee for a Victorian FOI request is $29.60Click here for more information. 

Be sure to change all your public material where application fees appear from 1 July.  You may also need to revisit any public material dealing with access charges which are tied to "fee units" to reflect the changes from 1 July 2019. FOI Solutions has prepared an access charges calculator in the form of an Excel spread sheet to help clients calculate charges associated with "fee units".  For a copy please email our office and ask for the 2019 Access Charges Calculator.

Please note that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has previously ruled that if applicants accidentally pay the previous year's fee instead of the correct one, it is likely that that will be considered as sufficient compliance with the requirement for a request to be accompanied by an application fee.  Also remember that any decision not to waive or reduce the application fee on hardship grounds is reviewable by the Information Commissioner.  Be sure to include appropriate review rights in any letter notifying an FOI applicant of such a decision. If you need any assistance in this regards, please contact us.

Annual 2018 VCAT summaries available

Our annual summaries of FOI and privacy decisions by VCAT for 2018 are available for purchase.  For more information or to order your copy (or any back copies to 2004) contact our office.

Monthly VCAT decision subscription service

  • Why wait for an annual compilation of VCAT case summaries when it is available on a monthly basis?  You should seriously consider whether you are up to date with developments in FOI and privacy decisions and whether you want to be left behind. 
  • To help maintain your knowledge, FOI Solutions has developed a subscription service summarising VCAT FOI and privacy decisions each month
  • It will enable you to keep up to date on a month by month basis by having timely access to the most recent FOI and privacy decisions within days or weeks of them being made (rather than relying on our annual summary publication which is also available or even worse still, not finding out at all!!). 
  • The summaries are easy to read, practical and relevant to day to day handling of those areas.
  • Subscriptions are available on a 24, 12 or 6 monthly basis. Contact our office for more information or to subscribe.

 

FOI Solutions Pre-Eminent Accredited Specialist Firm in Administrative Law

FOI Solutions has become the first law firm in Victoria to have two lawyers who are Accredited Specialists in Administrative Law.  Our Executive Director, Mick Batskos, and Elisa Hesling, Senior Associate at FOI Solutions are 2 of only 22 legal practitioners in Victoria who are Accredited Specialists in Administrative Law.  For more information about the areas of law in which skills and knowledge must be demonstrated to become an Accredited Specialist in Administrative Law, click here.

Customised Training sessions

If your agency needs customised training for in FOI, privacy, protected disclosures, how to make lawful statutory decisions and other government law topics, we can develop a session and present it at your premises.  For example, one of our most popular sessions is an overall training session making all staff aware of the obligations imposed on them and your agency under the FOI Act.  Please contact our Executive Director, Mick Batskos: mick@foisolutions.com.au  for a copy of our Catalogue of Training Sessions or to confidentially discuss your training needs.

Privacy Good Practice Guide and Checklist - a hit

FOI Solutions has prepared a Privacy Good Practice Guide and Checklist which has been a big hit with agencies with numerous government agencies purchasing and implementing the Guide and Checklist.  FOI Solutions developed the materials after repeal of the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic), the commencement of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) in September 2014, and the adoption by the Commissioner of Privacy by Design.  It helps agencies to re-visit their privacy compliance.  It :

  • assists organisations to review their privacy compliance
  • promotes high level organisational support for privacy compliance
  • helps agencies to identify areas of high risk and continuous improvement.

In short, it will enable you to get ahead of the privacy tsunami as organisations are expected to move to a more proactive model of privacy compliance.  For more information about our Privacy Good Practice Guide and Checklist, click here.

 

Administrative Assistance in FOI matters

If you need administrative assistance in FOI related matters and do not want to seek legal advice, our partner organisation, FOI Support has been created by Mick Batskos to provide the assistance you need. For more information click here or contact us (details below).  One of our Administrative Consultants will then contact you to discuss confidentially your immediate or longer term needs.

 

Privacy Training vacuum being filled by FOI Solutions

We have been contacted by numerous clients seeking privacy training and have been informed that what was formerly Privacy Victoria no longer provides training to agencies.  FOI Solutions is perfectly placed to develop customised training for your agency or to provide a standard introductory package to reacquaint your officers with their obligations under privacy legislation. To confidentially discuss your organisation's needs or for a proposal for inhouse training for you, please contact our Executive Director, Mick Batskos: mick@foisolutions.com.au

FOI Solutions successful in landmark FOI decision on CCTV

The VCAT handed down a landmark decision considering for the first time the operation and effect of a certificate issued by the Acting Chief Commissioner of Police under s 29A(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) (“FOI Act”) in support of a decision by the City of Melbourne to refuse access to CCTV footage. The Tribunal accepted submissions by FOI Solutions for the Council concluding that there are reasonable grounds for the claim by the Acting Chief Commissioner of Police that release of CCTV footage of the clocks area of Flinders Street Station would, or could reasonably be expected to, endanger the security of the Station and premises in the vicinity of the Station (under s 29A(1B)(a) of the FOI Act).  It affirmed the decision of the City of Melbourne to refuse access to the CCTV footage.  For more information about this case please do not hesitate to contact us.

Mick Batskos FOI 'guru' says Herald Sun

On 23 September 2013, the Herald-Sun newspaper wrote an article about the expertise and knowledge of Executive Director of FOI Solutions and FOI Support, Mick Batskos:

"Lawyer Mick Batskos, who is a consultant to all levels of government on FoI ... is regarded in government circles as a "guru" with an encyclopedic knowledge of how best to use exemptions in the Act" and that government departments engaged him for his "special expertise".  They also noted that "Mr Batskos also represents agencies and authorities" apart from departments. (Herald Sun, 23 September 2013, p 11)

Previous Announcements and Developments

State Government FOI Practice Notes drafted by FOI Solutions

FOI Solutions active in pro bono work

Award for Professional Excellence

FOI