The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you the right to apply for access to documents held by government agencies, including cemetery trusts. You can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for yourself or on behalf of others and you can amend personal information about you held by government agencies.
Types of documents held by The Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
SMCT hold a range of documents relating to the operation of its cemeteries and crematoria. This also includes documents created by the Cemetery Trusts managing the cemeteries prior to SMCT’s inception. This includes records relating to:
- Cremations and interments
- Governance and administration of SMCT cemeteries
- Construction and maintenance records relating to cemetery structures
- Land acquisition and management
You have a right to apply for access to documents held by SMCT including, but not limited to, the following documents:
- Documents relating to your own personal affairs regardless of the age of the documents
- Documents of a non-personal nature which are not older than 5 July 1978
Whenever possible SMCT will make information available. Access to part or all of some documents may be refused under the Act in certain circumstances. This includes documents:
- Containing information provided to SMCT in confidence
- Concerning law enforcement and public safety
- Subject to legal professional privilege
- Subject to secrecy provisions in other legislation
- Containing information about personal affairs of another person
- Containing information about business affairs of another person or organisation.
An application fee of $29.60 is generally required to constitute a valid application. Please remember to enclose a cheque/money order with your application, made payable to the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.
SMCT may agree to waive the application fee if you can demonstrate that payment of the application fee would cause you hardship.
Additional charges may be incurred, where reasonable, for access to documents. Depending on the nature of the request, we may charge for:
- Search time is charged at 1.5 fee units ($22.22) per hour or part of an hour
- Photocopying at 20 cents per page
- Providing written transcripts of a recorded document. Costs are incurred by the agency
- Supervising an inspection of documents. Charged at 1.5 fee units ($22.22) per hour and calculated per quarter hour or part thereof.
If access charges exceed $50, you must pay a deposit. In this case SMCT will notify you in writing. You can then choose whether to proceed or withdraw your request. As with the application fee, SMCT may agree to waive or reduce the access fees if you can demonstrate that payment of the application fee would cause you hardship.
Before making a FOI request for access
You are encouraged to check if the information or record you are seeking is already publicly available, such as in our annual report or on our website. If you cannot find the information or record you are seeking, we encourage you to contact us at foi@SMCT.org.au to see if the information you are seeking is available or can be provided to you. In some instances, we may be able to provide you with the information you are seeking without requiring you to make a formal request for access.
Request access to documents under the FOI Act
- 1. Outlining the details of your request, clearly describing the documents you seek.
- 2. You must include your full name, address and date of birth.
- 3. If your request is for your own personal information, you will need to provide certified proof of identity (e.g. driver's licence, passport etc).
- 4. If you wish to request waiver of the application fee, please include this in your application along with supporting evidence (such as a concession or pension card).
- 5. Submit the request and application fee.
It helps to provide as much detail as possible, such as the type of document, the date produced and its agency reference number. The FOI officer can help you make your request.
Freedom of Information process
FOI requests should be directed to:
The FOI Officer,
The Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
PO Box 1159
Clayton VIC 3169
- Your request becomes valid once it has been received, together with the application fee (unless waived by SMCT) and accompanying proof of identity documentation (if required)
- We will acknowledge receipt of your application within 7 days.
- If you need to pay access charges, you will receive a letter from us. You can dispute the charges. You must respond to this letter within 28 days.
- SMCT, must respond in writing with a decision on a valid request within 30 days of the date received
- To help process your application pay the application fee if required and make your request as clear as possible.
- If we are unable to identify any documents relevant to your request, we will notify you within 30 days of receiving your request.
- The FOI Act does provide for the decision response period to be extended in certain circumstances. We will notify you if this is the case.
Correction of personal records
You have the right to request the correction or amendment of information about you held by the SMCT and which you believe is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date, or misleading. A request to amend documents must be made in writing with details of why the information is considered incorrect. Please note that you may be required to provide evidence to support your request.
A decision in relation to a request to amend personal records must be made no later than 30 days from the date the request was received.
Can I request a review of my FOI decision?
- You have the right to seek review of SMCT’s decision from the Freedom of Information Commissioner. Go to the Freedom of Information Commissioner website.
- You must make a request for a review within 28 days of receiving SMCT's decision.
- You can also direct complaints about SMCT’s handling of a request to The Commissioner
- You can seek a review of the FOI Commissioner's decision, contact VCAT (see http://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/).
- If the request involves health information, you can also contact the Health Services Commissioner.
More information is available at the Victorian Government's Freedom of Information website: www.foi.vic.gov.au