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Freedom Of Information

What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?

The Victorian Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1982 (the Act), gives you the right to request access to documents held by Ballarat Health Services (BHS). The Act also gives you the right to request an amendment to information about you that you believe is incorrect or misleading.

What information is available?

  • Medical records – your own or of another person with consent
  • Documents regarding the activities and services of Ballarat Health Services. The types of documents that BHS maintains includes:
    • policy, procedures and standards
    • reports
    • medical records
    • registers
    • correspondence
    • meeting records
    • financial records
    • audio visual material
    • staff records
    • archival records.

‘Documents’ covers multiple media including paper, PDF, photographs, films, video recording, tape recording, maps, computer reports and emails.

BHS moved to a Digital Medical Record in 2009/10. Copies of medical record documents prior to this time will be provided in paper format, after this time in PDF format on a CD (unless requested otherwise).

What information is not available?

The Act allows for documents or parts of documents to be exempted under certain circumstances. Examples include:

  • Documents containing personal information about other people
  • Documents containing information given to BHS in confidence
  • Internal working papers.

Each FOI request will be assessed in accordance with the Act. If documents requested are exempted, you will be advised and reference to the appropriate clause of the Act provided.

Requests for medical information for continuing care

The FOI Act allows for you to receive a copy of your medical record.

If you require medical information to be sent to your doctor or other health care provider for continuing care, you or your doctor may make this request by telephoning Health Information Services on 5320 4227. We may require your written consent.

Requests for genealogical searches

If you are seeking access to historical patient information for genealogy purposes, please contact the Freedom of Information Officer on 5320 4368.

Making an FOI application

Applications must:

  • Be in writing – complete the application form or write a letter;
  • Clearly describe the documents you are requesting access to;
  • Contain enough information to accurately identify the patient (medical record requests);
  • Include the application fee or sufficient evidence to support waiving of the fee, such as a signed Centrelink card;
  • Include proof of identity (photo identification with signature); and
  • Include consent and/or proof of relationship if applying for medical record information about a person other than yourself.

Costs

There are two costs associated with making a request – the application fee and access charges. These fees and charges are set by government regulations under the Act.

Application Fee: $28.40 (non-refundable, unless the fee is waived)

Access Charges:
Photocopying 20 cents per page (black & white, A4)
CD $25.00
 

Payment methods:

  • Cheque/Money Order: Payable to ‘Ballarat Health Services’
  • Credit card: In person to Cashier Desk or phone 5320 4002
  • Cash In person to Cashier Desk

Processing the application

  • Upon receipt of your application, the FOI Officer will ensure all of the information necessary for a valid application is included.
  • We will send you a letter to confirm receipt of your valid application, or request further information.
  • Under the Act, BHS must respond within 30 days of receipt of a valid application.
  • Following processing of your application you will receive:
    • a letter explaining the outcome of your application;
    • any documents released as part of your application; and
    • an invoice for access charges where applicable. 

Complaints

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your FOI application please contact the FOI Officer on 5320 4368 to discuss your request.

If, following discussion, you are still not satisfied with the outcome of your FOI application, there are several avenues of appeal you can pursue:

  • You may seek a review of the decision by the Victorian Information Commissioner
  • You may seek conciliation by the Health Complaints Commissioner
  • In certain circumstances you may request that another health service provider review the decision
  • In certain circumstances you may seek a review of the decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Further information on avenues of appeal, including contact details for relevant bodies and timeframes for lodging appeals, is available here.

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