In This Section
Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (commonly referred to as the 'GIPA Act'), you can access and see a lot of information we hold in Council records (both digital and hard-copy).
The GIPA Act commenced on 1 July 2010, replacing the Freedom for Information Act 1989 and Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1993.
We aim to publish as much information as we can. We keep several information registers (lists of documents by topic) so you can find it easily.
This information includes registers like:
Our Agency Information Guide explains Council’s approach to the release of information.
The GIPA Act provides a pathway to accessing information in four stages:
Open access information includes information provided on our website, free of charge. For instance, information about Council as an organisation, our policy documents, information about Development Applications and register of government contracts.
Under the GIPA Act, information known as ‘open access information’ must be disclosed by us unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosing it.
Council’s Information and Privacy Officer uses the guides provided by the Information and Privacy Commission together with their extensive knowledge to apply the public interest test.
What is the public interest test?
Where open access information Council holds contains personal information, the personal information may not be made publicly available, if the Council considers that there would be an overriding public interest against its disclosure. For example the Council withholds the signatures and principal address information of staff members where they appear on pecuniary interest statements.
Under GIPA Act pt 2 div 1 section 6 - Mandatory proactive release of certain government information point (5), Council must keep a record of the open access information (if any) that it does not make publicly available on the basis of an overriding public interest against disclosure. The record only indicates the general nature of the information concerned.
Along with information that is required to be publicly available under the GIPA Act, we are committed to providing as much information as possible, for free or at a low cost.
A lot of information is easy to access and available to the public on our website. If you need help locating information, please contact us.
Informal release applications have an associated cost, so you should only request an informal release if the information you are looking for isn't already publicly available.
For the fees and charges associated with an informal release please go to the fees and charges section of this page.
If the information you are looking for is not already available online, you can informally apply to have the information released by Council. We can release information if there is no overriding public interest against the disclosure of it.
For instance, you are entitled to request personal information about yourself or apply on behalf of someone else that is seeking their personal information, but you can't apply for the personal information of another member of the community.
Information you can usually request this way includes:
As we address your request, we may impose any reasonable conditions on the supply of this information. For instance, where information is subject to copyright protection, the copyright owners written consent is required in order to gain copies of these documents.
Include your full contact details and sufficient information for the information requested to be identified.
Please note: Council retains discretion to require a formal access application in certain circumstances including:
Formal release applications are the most involved type of application, and have an associated processing cost that has the potential to be quite high, so a formal release should be the last resort after all informal avenues have been tried.
For the fees and charges associated with a formal release please go to the fees and charges section of this page.
Information that is not able to be provided via 'informal release' can be requested via a formal access application. You have a legally enforceable right to be provided with the information unless there is an overriding public interest against the disclosure of it.
A formal access application may be required if the information you are applying for involves:
Formal access applications must:
Council has 20 working days to decide on an application (with provision for that time limit to be extended by a maximum of 15 days if records need to be retrieved from archives or third parties need to be consulted).
Decisions made by Council about formal access applications can be requested for internal review by Council, or an application for external review by the Information Commissioner and/or the Administrative Decisions Tribunal can also be made.
The GIPA Act sets a fee for the lodgement of and processing time for access applications under GIPA Act pt 4 div 5 s64 - Processing charge for dealing with access application.
You can find information on the relevant fees and charges on the tables below. All fees and charges are GST free.
For assistance in understanding the way GIPA fees and charges are calculated, please view the Information and Privacy Commission's GIPA Act fees and charges fact sheet.
$30 per hour
The GIPA Act sets a fee for the lodgement of an internal review application under GIPA Act pt 5 div 2 s 85 - Fee for internal review. No processing charges apply to review applications.
To learn more about the review process, go to requesting a review of an application decision.
While development applications and related decisions made before 1 July 2010 are no longer considered open access information, they continue to be 'government information' within the meaning of the GIPA Act and can be requested through an access application.
As set out in the GIPA Act, an applicant may eligible for a maximum discount of 50% of the processing fee if they are experiencing financial hardship or the information is of special benefit to the general public. The discount can't exceed 50% even if you qualify on both grounds.
50% discounts do not apply to the cost of the application fee, however if applicant is eligible for a discount, the application lodgement fee will pay for two (2) hours of processing time instead of one (1).
If an applicant is applying for their own personal information, or applying on behalf of someone else for that person’s personal information, there is no processing charge for the next 20 hours of processing time after the first.
Council is committed to meeting our obligations under the Copyright Act 1968 and the GIPA Act.
We will not provide copies of documents which are subject to copyright without the express written consent of the copyright owner/s.
If you have lodged a formal application to access Council documents and you disagree with a decision about the release of information, you have a right to have that decision reviewed.
Examples of reviewable decisions include a decision:
A complete list of reviewable decisions is set out in GIPA Act pt 5 div 1 s 80 - Which decisions are reviewable decisions, and are also shown on page two (2) of the Internal Review Application.
Generally, you have three (3) options if you want a decision reviewed:
You have 20 working days after the notice of a decision has been given to you to request an internal review.
The review must be carried out by a person who is no less senior than the person who made the original decision and cannot be carried out by the person who made the original decision. The review decision must be made as if it was a fresh application.
If Council’s Chief Executive Officer made the original decision, you cannot ask for an internal review, but you can ask for an external review.
There is a $40.00 fee for an internal review application except if the decision is ‘deemed refusal’ and this could occur if your application was not processed within the required time. In this case, you cannot be charged any review fee.
Your application will be acknowledged within five (5) working days of receiving it.
Council must decide the internal review within 15 working days (this can be extended by 10 days if third party consultation is involved or, or by agreement with you).
If you disagree with any of the decisions listed above, you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner.
If you are the person applying for access to information, you do not have to have an internal review of the decision before asking the Information Commissioner to review it.
If you are not the access applicant, you must seek an internal review before applying for review by the Information Commissioner.
You have eight weeks from being notified of the decision to ask for a review by the Information Commissioner.
On reviewing the decision, the Information Commissioner can make recommendations about the decision to the agency.
You cannot ask the Information Commissioner to review a decision that has already been reviewed by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
If you disagree with any of the decisions listed above, you can ask for a review by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT).
You do not have to have the decision reviewed internally, or by the Information Commissioner before applying for review by the ADT.
You have up to eight (8) weeks from being notified of the decision to apply to the ADT for review.
However, if you have applied for review by the Information Commissioner, you have four (4) weeks from being notified of the Information Commission’s review outcome to apply to the ADT.
'Government information' is anything held in a record by an agency, on behalf of an agency by a government contractor, or by the State Records Authority.
A 'record' means any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written or electronic form.
The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (known as 'PPIPA') defines personal information as "information or an opinion about an individual whose identity is apparent or can reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion".
Personal information collected by Council can include your name, email address and any other information you provide.
To learn more about the way Council handles privacy and personal information, visit the Privacy & Personal Information page.
You can access your personal information held by an agency in several ways.
Under the GIPA Act, the first step is to make an informal request for your information.
Agencies should make every effort to release your personal information in this way. In some circumstances you may need to make a formal access application.
You may apply for access under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1988 pt 2 div 1 s 14 - Access to personal information held by agencies.
The Information and Privacy Commission has prepared a fact sheet to help you understand the Information Protection Principles that Council is obligated to follow:
You can apply for access to your health information under the Health Records Information and Privacy Act 2002.
We only release property owner details if they are a business or corporation. In compliance with privacy laws, we do not release individual ownership details.
You can apply for individual property ownership information from NSW Land Registry Services.
Any person can make a formal application for access to information held by an agency.
This should be the last resort, after the informal avenues have been tried.
Agencies have up to five working days from the day they receive your application to consider it and let you know whether or not it is valid.
If your access application is valid, the agency will take steps to see if it has the information you want. The agency may need to consult other people, businesses or government bodies to find the information.
When the agency has finished consulting, it must provide you with the information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure (public interest test) or the information is excluded.
If the agency decides your application is not valid it must tell you why. The agency must provide you with reasonable assistance to make a valid application.
Before releasing government information, government agencies must apply a 'public interest test' to evaluate whether the public interest in keeping that information private and secure outweighs the public interest in accessing the information.
Agencies can only refuse access to information if public against release outweighs the public interest for release.
There are limited and specific interests against release of information that an agency can consider. These are:
For example, the GIPA Act provides a list of excluded information that, in the public interest, must not be disclosed. The list includes information that is required to be kept restricted under witness protection legislation, information about the identity of jurors, and details on the child protection offenders register.
There is no limit to the matters an agency may take into account in favour of releasing information when considering the public interest test.
All NSW Government agencies have to release information as set out in the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, including:
There are a range of penalties that can be applied under the GIPA Act for the following conduct:
These offences attract a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units.
Agencies can refuse your request if:
If you are unhappy with the decision made on an application, you are entitled to request a review under the GIPA Act.
If you receive information after making a formal application, and the agency believes that information may of interest to other members of the public, the agency ordinarily records it on the ‘disclosure log’ which is made available on the agency’s website.
The disclosure log describes the information that was provided to the applicant and — if it is available to other members of the public — how they can access it.
You can object to information being included in the disclosure log if:
An agency may release information about your business in response to an access application, however, the decision will be subject to the public interest test.
If an access application covers your business information, an agency must consult you to see whether or not you object to the information being released. Your objection must relate to one or more of the five public interest considerations against disclosure set out in the Act.
If the agency decides that, on balance, the public interests against disclosure outweigh those for disclosure, then they will not release the information.
If an agency decides to release your business information, despite your objection, you have a right have this decision reviewed under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
If a person has made at least three (3) access applications within two (2) years that lack merit, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) may order the person to obtain NCAT approval before making another access application.
If a person is subject to such a restraint order they cannot apply to NCAT for approval to make an access application without first serving notice on the agency concerned and the Information Privacy Commission.
There are a range of protections under the GIPA Act:
You can complain to the Information Privacy Commission (IPC)
The IPC is the Information Privacy Commission. Their role is to administer and provide independent oversight of the new right to information system.
The IPC is strictly independent of other government agencies, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Police Integrity Commission exercising certain oversight functions.
The role of the IPC is to promote public awareness and understanding of the GIPA Act and provide information, advice, assistance and training to agencies and the public.
The IPC also monitors agencies’ functions and may report to the Minister for GIPA about proposals for legislative or administrative change.
The IPC may issue guidelines to assist agencies and the public on various matters, including:
In carrying out these roles, the Commission has broad powers to investigate, including requiring agencies to provide information, and to conduct inquiries.