Freedom of information (FOI) applications are becoming increasing useful in gathering information about government practices. Information on how to lodge an FOI claim is available on the Victorian Government’s Freedom of information website.
FOIs are cheap to initiate (the submission fee is less than $30 and you can ask for the fee to be waived - see note below). However you should be aware that you may be charged for printing and search costs if the documentation generated through your request is substantial.
It is standard practise for the FOI depratment to give you an estimate of costs before prceeding with your request, which gives you the chance to either opt out of the request or else 'refine' your request to a smaller set of documents.
In the case of the Victorian situation, there are claims that the FOI process is becoming increasingly politicised, and hence less useful for accessing documents.
See The Age article by Farrah Tomazin - 'New watchdog to guard public right to information'
Note: The FOI fee can be waived if you can prove ‘financial hardship’; generally a photocopy of a current healthcare card sufficies to prove this. Be aware that otherwise FOI costs can grow as you are charged per documents for the ‘access’ fee in addition to the one-off processing fee.