Access to Information

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act), which commenced on 1 July 2010, introduces a new 'Right to Information' regime to NSW, replacing the existing Freedom of Information (FOI) system which has been operating since 1989.

The new regime aims to make more information available to all sectors of the community through open access information and promotes more open and transparent government.

The GIPA Act applies to all NSW government agencies, including local councils and county councils (in accordance with the Act). Members of the public can access government information in a number of ways under the GIPA Act, sometimes without even having to ask. The GIPA Act provides four ways for government information to be released:

Open Access Information Council must disclose certain information, known as open access information, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. Generally, open access information must be available on Council's website, and at least one method of access must be free of charge. Open access information includes: A publication guide with information about Council's structure and functions; Council's policy documents; A disclosure log of information of general interest to the public that has been released under formal access applications; The register of contacts with a value of more than $150,000 that Council has entered into with private sector entities; Information in documents tabled in Parliament by, or on behalf of, Council; A record of information that Council will not make public because of an overriding public interest against disclosure; A list of Council's major assets, guarantee of service and code of conduct.

Proactive Release Apart from open access information, Council is authorised to release as much other information as possible free of charge or at the lowest possible cost. Council must review the information they release proactively at least every 12 months.

Informal Release of Information Members of the public may contact Council and ask for information. This is known as an informal request. Council may release information informally, subject to any reasonable conditions. For more information, see the link titled Informal Request below.

Formal Access Application for Release of Information If information cannot be accessed through any of the above ways, a formal access application may be necessary. This should be a last resort under the GIPA Act, and only necessary if you are asking for a large volume of information, if providing access would involve an extensive search, or if the information you seek involves personal or business information about third parties who must be consulted before the information can be released. For more information, see the link titled Formal Access below.

You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW government information on The Information and Privacy Commission website at www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.

Council publishes a range of information under the GIPA Act.

Follow the links below to find out more about our Policies, Council's Publication Guide, a disclosure log of information applications, details of information not disclosed to the public and our register of government contracts.