Email correspondence on school funding changes

Eliza Berlage made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Education

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From: Eliza Berlage

Delivered

Dear Department of Education,

Could you please send through any email correspondence between May 2 and May 12 that relate to school funding changes.

If possible, please treat this as an administrative/informal request. Otherwise please proceed with my request as a formal information request under the Act.

Yours faithfully,

Eliza Berlage

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From: Education - FOI
Department of Education

Attention: Ms Eliza Berlage.

Dear Ms Berlage.

I would like to acknowledge receipt of your FOI request below to this department dated 17 May 2017 and received in the department the next day, 18 May.

Regards.

Mal Bennett
Senior Government Lawyer
Corporate Legal Team | Child Care, Schools and Corporate Legal Australian Government Department of Education and Training
Phone: (02) 6121 5161 | Level 10, 50 Marcus Clarke Street Canberra

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Opportunity through learning
www.education.gov.au

Important: This transmission is intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone and delete all copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

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From: Education - FOI
Department of Education


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Attachment Section 24AB Notice.pdf
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Dear Ms Berlage.

 

Please find attached correspondence relating to your FOI request recently
lodged with this department.

 

Regards.

 

Mal Bennett
Senior Government Lawyer
Corporate Legal Team | Child Care, Schools and Corporate Legal
Australian Government Department of Education and Training

Phone: (02) 6121 5161 | Level 10, 50 Marcus Clarke Street Canberra

 

[1]Please click here if you have any feedback on our legal services

 

Opportunity through learning

[2]www.education.gov.au

 

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Important: This transmission is intended only for the use of the addressee
and may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are
not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use or dissemination
of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone
and delete all copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

 

Notice:
The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 566 046 during business hours (8am - 5pm Local time)
and delete all copies of this transmission together with any attachments. 

References

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Now this is a much better notification of practical refusal intention than you usually see. The agency's intention response, while very summary, at least provides some indication that it has undertaken some sampling first (although it really should provide a proper breakdown of the time estimated for each stage in processing a request), before giving notice of intent to engage in a practical refusal consultation.

"Your request, as it is presently worded, is very broad and captures within its scope many documents in the possession of the department. I am advised that over 10,000 pages of material would be potentially within the scope of the request. Two hours have already been spent in locating and identifying these documents and it is estimated that another 15 hours would be needed to complete that task and then retrieve them."

s 24AA(1)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) allows agencies to refuse an FOI request where the work involved in processing the request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations. Before doing so though, it must engage in a "request consultation process", and give reasonable evidence why the FOI as currently stated would be burdensome to it.

An FOI request can be described quite broadly and must be read fairly by an agency or minister, being mindful not to take a narrow or pedantic approach to its construction, however such requests can cause a very large scope. This runs the risk of constituting an unreasonable diversion of resources than a request that is narrowly focused, but the fact that a large number of documents lies within the scope of a request may not be determinative if the documents can be easily identified, collated and assessed.

In this specific case, I think it would be helpful for the Applicant to provide more information to the agency, to help narrow the request (given you can see how there would be many records of fairly minor nature captured by the scope of the existing request). Remember, the agency is under a positive obligation to assist you in framing your FOI during a request consultation process, so don't be afraid to ask them questions about what is most likely to be relevant to your particular interests.

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