Individuals can apply to amend personal information about themselves in documents held by UWA where that information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading.
There are no charges for making an application to amend personal information.
How to make an application
First, verify if it is possible to have the information amended outside the FOI process – see Introduction to Freedom of Information (FOI)
The following points set out the requirements in order to make a valid application for the amendment of personal information.
- The application must be in writing.
- This can be done by letter, email or by printing and completing the Application for Amendment of Personal Information form.
- The application must give enough details to enable the document that contains the information to be identified.
- The right to request amendment of personal information relates to information that is contained in specific documents, not information at large. Applicants must provide sufficient information to allow UWA to identify the relevant document.
- The applicant must provide details of the information they consider to be inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading including the reasons for holding that belief.
- The application must clearly outline how and why the applicant believes the information to be inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading. Documentation may be included to support the claim.
- The application must give details of the amendment that the applicant wishes to be made.
- Information can be amended in various ways.
- The application must provide an address in Australia for correspondence, to which notices under the FOI Act can be sent.
- A telephone number and/or email address should be given in addition to a postal address, so that UWA can contact an applicant efficiently.
- The application must be lodged at UWA.
- Applications should be addressed to:
Risk and Legal M461
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
If assistance is required to make an application to amend personal information, contact the Office Coordinator.
Application for amendment of personal information
How information is amended
Information can be amended by:
- altering information
- striking out or deleting information
- inserting information
- inserting a note in relation to the information
- in two or more of any of these ways.
Note that information cannot be amended in a way that obliterates the information, or destroys the document, without the approval of the Information Commissioner.
Once an application is madeThe permitted period under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act) for a valid amendment of personal information application is 30 days.
The Information Commissioner can reduce or extend the amount of time that UWA has to deal with an application. However, these are usually negotiated between UWA and the applicant. Applicants who have a genuine need to have an application processed quickly should speak to the FOI Coordinator.
The applicant will receive a letter confirming their request, including the ambit of application and the due date for completion. The relevant document will be located and evaluated together with the assessment of the amendment application.
Once a decision has been made by UWA to amend or not to amend the document, this will be followed by a Notice of Decision which will outline the following:
- the person who made the decision and the date on which the decision was made
- if UWA has decided to amend the information, details of the amendment made
- if UWA has decided not to amend the information, an explanation of that decision, including their right to request a notation
- information on how to request a review of the decision.
The right to request a notation
Where an application for amendment to personal information is refused, the applicant may request a notation or attachment be placed on the relevant document. The notation may include details of the information the applicant claims to be inaccurate, incomplete, out-of-date or misleading.
Where it is claimed that information is incomplete or outdated, the attachment or notation can also set out the information required to update the document.
A request for a notation or attachment will be refused if it is considered by UWA to be defamatory or unnecessarily voluminous.
A refusual of the request or part therof will be explained in a Notice of Decision to the applicant which will include the following:
- an explanation of why UWA has refused to make the notation or attachment
- or refused to make it in the form requested
- the applicant's right to request a review of the decision.
Altering or destroying documents
UWA cannot alter a document in a way that obliterates, removes information or results in the destruction of the document, without the approval of the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner can only give approval to obliterate or remove information, or destroy a document, if:
- it is impracticable to retain the information
- in the opinion of the Commissioner, the prejudice or disadvantage caused to the applicant by the continued existence of the information outweighs the public interest in maintaining a complete record.
Transfer of applications
Instances where UWA may transfer an application to amend personal information to another agency are:
- UWA does not have the document that contains the disputed information but knows that another agency does.
- UWA does hold the document, but the document originated from another agency and is more closely related to the functions of that agency.
UWA will notify the applicant of the transfer without delay. Also, the prescribed 30-day period to process the amendment application will still apply from the date a valid application was received despite the transfer to another agency for processing.
Review of a UWA decision
The FOI Act sets out two stages of review, an internal review and external review.
An internal review is a review of the decision that is conducted within UWA.
What decisions can be reviewed?
An applicant can request an internal review of a decision to:
- refuse to amend information in the way requested
- refuse to make a notation or attachment in the way requested.
It is not possible to request an internal review if the original decision was made by the principal officer of UWA (the Vice-Chancellor).
How to make an application for internal review
An internal review request must be made within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Decision. There are no charges for requesting an internal review.
This list outlines the requirements in order to make a valid internal review request under the FOI Act.
- The request must be in writing.
- This can be done by letter or by email – there is no special form.
- The request must set out the particulars of the decision that the applicant wishes to have reviewed.
- For instance, by stating the name of the decision-maker, the date of the decision, and the matter to which the decision relates.
- The request must give an address in Australia for correspondence, to which notices under the FOI Act can be sent.
- A telephone number and/or email address should be given in addition to a postal address, so that UWA can contact an applicant promptly.
- The request must be lodged at UWA.
- Internal review requests should be addressed to:
Risk and Legal M461
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
The request can be sent by mail or delivered in person to the above address. It can also be sent to the Office Coordinator.
An internal review cannot be conducted either by the person who made the original decision, or by someone subordinate to that person. The internal reviewer can confirm, vary, or reverse the original decision.
Once a request for internal review has been made, the agency must review the disputed decision within 15 days. If the applicant is still aggrieved by the internal review decision, they may apply for an external review with the Information Commissioner.
If UWA does not provide a decision within 15 days, it is to be taken that the original decision is confirmed. The applicant may then request an external review by the Information Commissioner.
An applicant may request an external review with the Office of the Information Commissioner if they are aggrieved by an agency's decision. The Information Commissioner will review that decision.
Generally, an external review is requested once an internal review has been completed unless the original decision was made by the principal officer of the agency (in UWA's case, the Vice-Chancellor). The Information Commissioner may allow an applicant to request an external review if they demonstrate why an internal review should not be applied for, or, if it has been applied for, why it should not be completed.
An external review is to be lodged within 60 days of receiving the Notice of the Decision.
An application for external review must:
- be in writing
- give particulars of the decision to which the complaint relates
- give an address in Australia to which notices under the FOI Act can be sent
- include a copy of the decision the person is seeking to have reviewed
- be lodged at the Office of the Information Commissioner.
Further information about making a request for external review is available from the Office of the Information Commissioner.