The Victorian government has announced it will create a single organisation to oversee privacy and freedom of information issues in the state.
The government announced today it will create an Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner, mirroring the federal Office of the Australian Information Commissioner as well the Office of the Information Commissioner in Queensland and the Information and Privacy Commission in NSW.
The OVIC will replace the Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner and the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection.
The new body will be created as part of an overhaul of the state’s FOI regime, which will also include introducing the ability to review ministerial and departmental FOI decisions including under Cabinet exemptions; reducing the time to respond to an FOI request from 45 days to 30 days; and reducing the time that agencies have to seek a review by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal from 60 days to 14 days.
Victoria’s revamped ICT strategy, launched earlier this month, included FOI reform as a priority for the state. It also included as a priority the creation of a ‘data agency’ to boost information sharing between government agencies and departments.
“We said that we’d overhaul Victoria’s freedom of information system to give Victorians better access to government information and we’re doing just that,” said special minister of state Gavin Jennings.
“The Liberals hid damning evidence about the ambulance crisis and we’ve put an end to that. These changes will ensure that future governments can no longer keep Victorians in the dark about the issues that matter.”
The government said the changes to the state’s FOI regime are only the first step in a reform program. A review of Victoria’s FOI legislation is expected to be announced shortly.