Freedom of Information Part II – Information Statements

Freedom of Information Part II – Information Statements

VARTA aims to make information and documents easily accessible to members of the public. The following statements outline the functions of VARTA and provide a non-exhaustive list of the types of information and documents we hold in relation to our functions.

Organisation and Functions

VARTA and its structure is established by Part 10 of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic) (the Act). VARTA’s functions are set out in section 100 of the Act as follows:

  • to administer the registration system under this Act;
  • to keep the Central Register;
  • to keep the Voluntary Register;
  • to undertake public education about treatment procedures and the best interests of children born as a result of treatment procedures;
  • to undertake community consultation about matters relevant to this Act;
  • to provide counselling and support services in relation to matters relating to persons born as a result of donor treatment procedures;
  • to monitor—
    • programs and activities carried out under this Act; and
    • programs and activities carried out relating to the causes and prevention of infertility; and
    • programs and procedures relating to treatment procedures carried out outside Victoria;  
  • to keep under regular review and, if it thinks fit, to make recommendations to the Minister about its functions, operation or composition;
  • to promote research into the causes and prevention of infertility; and
  • to approve the bringing of donor gametes or an embryo formed from donor gametes into or the taking of them from Victoria.
  • any other functions conferred on the Authority by or under this or any other Act.

 

VARTA’s decision-making powers include:

  • the power to approve the import and export of donor gametes and embryos produced using donor gametes and impose conditions and grant exemptions in relation to those approvals (sections 36 and 37 of the Act); and
  • the power to approve applications for registration, impose conditions on a registered ART provider’s registration and suspend a registered ART provider’s registration (sections 74-77 of the Act).

 

VARTA’s functions are performed in accordance with the key guiding principles set out in section 5 of the ART Act, which provide that:

(a) the welfare and interests of persons born or to be born as a result of treatment procedures are paramount;

(b) at no time should the use of treatment procedures be for the purpose of exploiting, in trade or otherwise—

  • the reproductive capabilities of men and women; or
  • children born as a result of treatment procedures;

(c) children born as the result of the use of donated gametes have a right to information about their genetic heritage;

(d) the health and wellbeing of persons undergoing treatment procedures must be protected at all times;

(e) persons seeking to undergo treatment procedures must not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, marital status, race or religion.

VARTA organisational chart for 2021

 

Documents held by VARTA

VARTA holds the following types of documents:

  • administrative and operational documents
  • applications, case management files and related documents
  • documents containing information about community consultation
  • training and education materials
  • communication and public relations documents
  • research and public education documents
  • policies, procedures and guidelines
  • human resource records
  • correspondence
  • meeting records
  • financial records.

 

More specifically, VARTA holds the following documents which are used to make decisions or recommendations pertaining to members of the public about their rights and obligations under the ART Act:

  • Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 Guidelines under section 100A
  • Guidance Note – Reporting Adverse Incidents
  • Guidelines for Importing and Exporting Donor Material – Individual Applications
  • VARTA Central Register Application Refund Policy.

 

VARTA manages the Central and Voluntary Registers. General information about making an application to these registers is available on VARTA’s website. For the purposes of FOI, a document is an exempt document if it contains information (whether or not that information is kept in a register) about or provided by:

  • a donor
  • a woman undergoing a treatment procedure and their partner, or
  • a donor conceived person, unless certain limited circumstances apply.

 

VARTA produces a number of publications and resources which can be accessed and downloaded from its website. VARTA also disseminates a VARTA newsletter and a Your Fertility newsletter to which members of the public can subscribe through its website. You can also keep up to date with VARTA’s latest news and events by following its social media accounts, including on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

VARTA has a range of policies and procedures that govern our daily operations and support the organisation’s administrative functions.

 

VARTA publishes an annual report each year, which can be viewed and downloaded here.

 

VARTA also holds the following reports prepared by paid consultants, disclosed as required under section 11 of the FOI Act:

  • Your Fertility Behavioural insights project report
  • Your Fertility website and SEO audit report.

 

Freedom of Information Arrangements

The FOI Act provides you with the right to request access to documents held by VARTA.

The object of the FOI Act is to extend as far as possible the right of the community to access information in the possession of the Government and other entities constituted under the law of Victoria.

 

Before making a request

You are encouraged to check if the information or document you are seeking is already publicly available through our annual report, policies and procedures, guidelines, resources or other information published on our website. 

If you cannot find the information or document you are seeking, we encourage you to contact us and ask if the information or document is available or can be provided to you. Depending on the circumstances, VARTA may be able to provide you with the information or document you are seeking without requiring you to make a formal request for access. 

If you wish to make an application to access information recorded on VARTA’s Central Register, you should use the VARTA Central Register application form.

 

Making a request

Under the FOI Act, your request for documents must meet three requirements to be valid:

  • your request must be in writing;
  • you must provide sufficient information about the documents you are requesting to allow VARTA to locate relevant documents; and
  • you must pay the application fee, or request VARTA to waive the fee due to hardship.

 

A request under the FOI Act must be made in writing and clearly describe the documents you are seeking to access. If we cannot clearly identify the information or documents you are seeking access to we will contact you to clarify your request. We can also accept an FOI request submitted using the OVIC application form, which is available here.

You will need to include the application fee ($30.10 as at 1 July 2021) or provide evidence of financial hardship (such as a Centrelink concession card) if you are asking for a fee waiver. Further access charges may apply where documents are released under the FOI Act.

Requests under the FOI Act should be emailed to regulation@varta.org.au along with payment by credit/debit card or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). When making your payment, please include a reference of ‘VARTA FOI’.

Credit/debit card – to make your online payment click here. If a fee waiver is sought for financial hardship, please include copies of documents in support of the waiver request.

If the requested documents are about your personal affairs, you should provide certified proof of your identity (e.g. a copy of your current drivers licence or other photo identification). If you are applying for documents as an agent for another person or as a parent or guardian, you must provide evidence of your guardianship status or your authority to act as an agent.

If the requested documents contain personal information about other people, we will need to contact those people to ask their permission to release their personal information.

 

Processing a request

Once VARTA understands what documents you are seeking, we will process your request and provide you with a decision within the statutory timeframe.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision that VARTA has made in relation to your FOI request, you have the right to seek review from the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner.

 

For further information about making an FOI request, or general queries about FOI, please visit the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner.

 

 

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