While the University aims to provide access in a manner that is fair and transparent, a number of exemptions exist in the FOI Act to protect certain kinds of documents, such as those relating to personal privacy or containing material obtained in confidence.
See Schedule 1 of the FOI Act for a full list of circumstances where a document could be considered ‘exempt’.
What documents can be exempted?
Types of documents that can be exempted include (but are not limited to) documents (or parts) that:
- are subject to legal professional privilege.
- are contracts containing an approved confidentiality clause.
- contain advice or opinions prepared for the purpose of decision-making.
- would unreasonably disclose information about another person’s personal affairs.
- contain trade secrets or information that has a commercial value.
- contain research results, disclosure of which could have an adverse effect on the University or others.
- contain information about the business, professional, commercial or financial affairs of the University or any other person.
- relate to internal assessment or staff management procedures.
For a full list, refer to Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.
Some exemption categories are only applicable if disclosure of the document would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
'The public interest has been described as something that is of serious concern or benefit to the public. It is not usually something of individual interest, although it can be.'
For more information, download State Records of South Australia’s guideline FOI and the public interest.
Will the entire exempted document be withheld?
If an FOI Officer is satisfied that the criteria for exemption is met, the content may be ‘redacted’ (blanked out) from the copy that is released to you or the entire document may be withheld from release.
As FOI legislation favours transparency and openness, rather than trying to claim a blanket exemption over a document, the FOI Officer will favour where practical blanking out the exempt information (individual words, sentences or sections) and provide access to the document in its limited form.
This approach is also a recommendation under Section 20(4) of the FOI Act.
However, if so much information has to be redacted from a document that it would no longer make sense, the whole document may be exempted.
What happens if all, or part of, a document is deemed exempt?
If the University decides not to provide all or part of a document because it falls within one of the exemption categories, we must explain our reasons in the determination letter we send back to you.
The letter will include information on your rights to appeal the decision for exemption.
For more information, download our fact sheet your rights to review and appeal.