Ambulance Victoria each year receives more than 900 applications for access to documents under the FOI Act 1982. These statistics are provided on an annual basis to the FOI Commissioner. The applications generally fall into two main categories:
Requests for copies of Patient Care Records (PCRs). These requests are usually received from people that AV has treated, their next of kin or legal representatives;
Requests from Members of Parliament, the media or members of the public relating to issues of public interest.
Guidelines for Access to Information
All requests for access to information must be in writing, giving sufficient information to enable AV to identify the document(s) to which access is sought.
An application fee applies to all FOI requests. AV may waive or reduce the fee if payment of the fee would cause hardship to the applicant.
Other charges may apply to the release of some documents. These charges are in line with those set by the FOI Act. Access the fees and charges set by the Act.
Applications should be addressed to:
Manager Freedom of Information
Locked Bag 9000
Ballarat Mail Centre, VIC 3354
Requirement to Provide Identification and Authority
AV Patient Care Records (PCRs) are of a highly confidential and sensitive nature. They directly relate to the personal affairs of patients. AV not only has a responsibility to the medical care of its patients but must also ensure that their privacy rights are upheld. For this reason proof of identity and authority must be provided before an application can be processed.
It is AV Policy that any applicant requesting documents relating to their own or other parties personal affairs, must first provide suitable evidence of identification and authority before AV makes any decision regarding release of documents falling within the terms of the request. This may be provided in the form of:
Your signed application;
Copy of a document which includes your signature eg. copy of a drivers licence.
The signature is then compared to the original application letter to ensure the application is bona fide.
What happens after an Application is received?
Under the Act, AV has 30 days to process a valid request (unless extensions have been approved) and advise the applicant of its decision to release or withhold documents. If the documents are released, the request is closed, if not, the applicant will be advised of their right to request a review of the decision.
Applications for a review of a decision made by a FOI officer must be submitted to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) within 28 days of the initial decision. If a request is accepted, the OVIC are required to provide the applicant with a decision within 30 days (unless a longer period has been arranged in writing by the applicant). If a request for access to documents is again denied, the applicant has 60 days from receipt of the review decision to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the OVIC decision. If the decision of the OVIC is to grant access to the documents, AV also has the right to apply to VCAT for a review of the decision and must do so within 14 days.
AV upholds the principles of the FOI Act 1982 and every endeavour is carried out to ensure that all legislative requirements of the Act are followed.