We are specialist administrative consultancy that provides government agencies in Victoria with highly experienced and reliable support in handling freedom of information (FOI) matters
(03) 9601 4100
(03) 9601 4101
When would you need to use our services?
FOI Support is perfectly placed to help you by providing on-site or off-siteassistance if your agency finds itself in one of the following circumstances (click on
an appropriate link for more information):
- Do you have a backlog in processing requests for access to documents?
- Do you have a shortage of suitable FOI staff with sufficient expertise to handle
- Have you experienced an unexpected increase in FOI requests?
- Do you receive FOI requests rarely; are uncertain how to properly deal with
- Have you received a request which is unusual, particularly sensitive or
- Has your agency failed to prepare a Part II statement as required by FOI
- Do you need to bounce an FOI administrative or processing query off
someone with experience but do not want to engage a lawyer?
- Are you unsure on how to complete the statistical returns required to be sent
to the government Department administering the FOI Act?
- Have you recently been criticised by the media, the Ombudsman or a review
body (such as the VCAT or AAT) on how your agency handles FOI requests?
We are committed to providing government agencies with FOI resourcing solutions which are:
To find out more please do not hesitate to contact us on the contact details above.
FOI Support has highly expert consultants providing a service which is second to none in cost-efficiency, reliability and accuracy. Our diverse client base is testament to the proven track record of quality service. We are confident that once you have experienced our excellent service, FOI Support will become an integral part of your regular FOI compliance. Below are just some examples of the how we can assist your agency with FOI issues. In considering how we can help your agency, it is important to recognise that when FOI Support is retained, it will deal with all matters with the utmost confidentiality. Should your agency require a specific confidentiality agreement, FOI Support and its expert consultants should be happy to execute it.
Sometimes, due to the pressures of competing work commitments or demands on resources, agencies can experience a creeping backlog of FOI requests. Before you know it a stage is reached where they cannot be dealt with in the required statutory time frames. That applies to requests for access to documents or requests for amendment of personal information. Such inordinate delays in processing of requests can result in agencies being criticised by external sources unless they are immediately brought in check.
FOI Support can provide the assistance you need to help compliance with your FOI obligations to be brought back on track. Our consultants can provide a rapid, on-site service to work through the backlog and bring things back under control quickly, efficiently and expertly. To maximise the speed with which this can be done, FOI Support can also provide off site support outside the usual 9am-5pm, Monday- Friday constraints of working on-site. Because of our affiliation with FOI Solutions, Solicitors and Consultants, your agency has the value added benefit of access to expert legal services should any legal issues arise in the course of processing the FOI request. That close affiliation is unique to FOI Support; as far as we are aware no competitors can offer such a complete service and added degree of comfort.
Short Term Staff Shortages
Over time, it is not uncommon for agencies to experience from time to time staff shortages for dealing with FOI requests. That can arise in a number of ways including staff becoming ill, going on annual leave, maternity leave, bereavement, unexpected departures and numerous other causes. However the situation arises, it can leave agencies short-staffed to deal with FOI requests in a suitably professional, knowledgeable and efficient manner without causing unnecessary burdens and stresses on other officers and staff.
In those instances, you can feel comforted in knowing our team of expert, professional and highly motivated consultants can assist your agency will ALL aspects of dealing with FOI requests. In relation to requests for access to documents that includes handling any or all of the following steps:
Consideration of whether a request for access is valid;Considering whether the request might not need to be processed under the FOI Act (eg it might be an unreasonable diversion of your agency’s resources to have to process it);Determining whether a deposit on account of access charges may be required;Ensuring a thorough and diligent search for documents is undertaken;Liaison with all internal and external persons to ensure fully informed decision-making;Assessment of documents to determine if they are wholly or partly exempt from access;
Drafting appropriate decisions or notifications at the initial and internal review decision-making stages.
Unexpected FOI request increases
Due to the unpredictability of the frequency of freedom of information requests and their nature, agencies can experience unexpected spikes in the number of requests they receive. FOI Support can assist.
A Council or State Government may be approaching an election, a particular issue becomes ‘flavour of the month’ with journalists who then seek more information from your agency by way of a series of FOI requests which results in an unusually large number of requests, or community or lobby groups develop an interest in the activities of your agency, thereby prompting an influx of requests. These types of occurrences can bring an unexpected drain on resources and may need a sudden, short-term burst of additional resources to smooth out that spike.
Our consultants can provide a rapid on-site service to work to deal with these unexpected spikes in FOI workflow quickly, efficiently and expertly. To maximise the speed with which this can be done, FOI Support can also provide off site support outside the usual 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday constraints of working on-site. That is, FOI Support is perfectly placed to respond promptly and responsively to your agency’s needs should such an unexpected increase in requests occur.
Rarely received FOI requests
Some agencies receive no requests for years at a time or only receive a handful of requests each year. The FOI decision-making function is usually allocated to a person with numerous other responsibilities who then has to re-acquaint themselves with the processing of FOI requests and the issues and intricacies which can rise in handling requests. Officers or staff with this responsibility feel that they have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ on each occasion.
In those circumstances, there is great potential for inaccuracy and error creeping into FOI processing due to lack of regular exposure to handling of requests. FOI Support and its expert consultants are perfectly placed to help your agency avoid the risks associated with this scenario.
Unusual, sensitive or confusing FOI requests
FOI requests can sometimes be unusual, highly sensitive (with political or reputational risks) or extremely confusing and complex such that even FOI officers who regularly receive requests may lack the skills to be able to properly deal with the requests in a way that minimises those identified risks.
Because of the highly expert and specialist skills of our professional consultants, FOI Support is able to assist agencies to deal with any type of FOI request.
Further, because of our affiliation with FOI Solutions, Solicitors and Consultants, your agency has the value added benefit of access to expert legal services should any legal issues arise in the course of processing such unusual, sensitive or confusing FOI requests. That close affiliation is unique to FOI Support; as far as we are aware no other FOI consultants can offer such a complete service and added degree of comfort.
No Part II statement
There are mandatory requirements in FOI legislation for agencies to publish certain organisational information in what have come to be known as Part II statements. Unfortunately, in our experience, the overwhelming majority of agencies are failing to comply with this legal obligation. More frequently regulatory authorities such as the Victorian Ombudsman are becoming aware and critical of this non-compliance by agencies. They have reiterated the need for agencies to comply and that non- compliance has no excuse. If you need assistance in preparing and keeping up to date on at least an annual basis what can be very complex and resource intensive Part II statements, FOI Support is perfectly placed to assist your agency to avoid the potential criticism identified.