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Access to Information Held by Council

Access to Information


The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) provides members of the public with the right to access information held by Council, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. Council is therefore committed to upholding the following objectives of the GIPA Act:

  • authorising and encouraging the proactive public release of government information, and
  • giving members of the public an enforceable right to access government information, and
  • restricting access to government information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Government information is defined in the GIPA Act as "information contained in a record held by an agency." Community members should be aware that this means any record of communication between Council and members of the public is considered to be government information. 


Under the GIPA Act, Council must have an Agency Information Guide (PDF, 898kB). By describing Council’s functions, responsibilities and organisational structure, the Agency Information Guide aims to promote a better understanding of Council’s work in the community and inform members of the public about the ways in which the community can participate in Council’s decision-making processes. It also details the various types of information held by Council and how that information can be accessed.

 

Privacy

 

Council is also required to fulfil certain obligations for the protection of personal information, and for the protection of the privacy of individuals generally, under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. Council’s Privacy Management Plan provides further information about how Council meets these obligations.


How To Access Council Information


To access Council information:


  1. Use the search function for Council's website, to see if it is already freely available.
  2. View Council's Proactive Release of Information Register, for direct access to much of the information that Council is required to make publicly available or has authorised for release under the GIPA Act. Where this information is not published on Council's website, the Proactive Release of Information Register provides an explanation as to how the relevant information can be accessed (for example, by making an appointment to view the information at Council's Civic Centre).
  3. View Council's adopted Fees & Charges, to determine if the information you are seeking is available to purchase. If so, please contact Council to arrange this.
  4. If after taking steps 1-3 you discover that the information you would like access to is not readily available, you will need to submit to Council either an informal application or a formal application to access Council information under the GIPA Act (see explanation of each application type below).


Access to information which is not otherwise made readily available by Council may be provided through informal release. As with open access information, Council is authorised to make publicly available any information it holds unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. Application should be made to Council by submitting an informal access application form, available below. Please note that any photocopying or printing required will incur a fee in accordance with Council's adopted Fees & Charges.


Even if you lodge an informal access application form, Council may require a formal access application form to be submitted in certain circumstances. This is generally the case if the information being sought:

  • is not available via proactive or informal release, and
  • is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of the considerations in favour of and against disclosure, or
  • contains personal or confidential information about a third party which may require consultation, or
  • may involve a substantial amount of time and resources to produce.


Application can be made to Council by submitting the formal access application form, available below, accompanied by the application fee of $30. Additional processing charges of $30/hour will generally apply (subject to a discount of 50% in limited circumstances as detailed on the application form).


Formal access applications are required to be decided within 20 working days, with an extension of up to 10 working days available to Council where consultation with another person is required or records are required to be retrieved from a records archive. If both of these circumstances apply to a particular application, the decision period can be extended by a maximum of 15 working days.


Public Interest Test and Copyright


Any applications for information made under the GIPA Act will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the GIPA Act. To enable the release of as much information as possible, Council is authorised to redact (delete) content from a copy of information to be released, if the inclusion of the redacted information would otherwise result in the existence of an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information.

There is an overriding public interest against disclosure of information if there are public interest considerations against disclosure and, on balance, those considerations outweigh the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure. This is known as the public interest test.


The manner and form in which Council makes information available may also be impacted by copyright legislation. Copyright protected information may be made available for inspection but copies can only be provided where the copyright owner has provided written consent or in other limited circumstances as set out in the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968.


For further information about how Council's obligations under the GIPA Act are affected by copyright law, please see the Knowledge update - Copyright and compliance with the GIPA Act (PDF, 88kB) published by the NSW Information and Privacy Commission.


Forms and Lodgement


PDFApplication for Access to Information (Informal) (PDF, 177kB)
PDFApplication for Access to Information (Formal) (PDF, 188kB)

You can submit completed application forms to:

In Person: Wingecarribee Shire Council Civic Centre, 68 Elizabeth Street, Moss Vale NSW 2577
Post: Senior Governance Officer, PO Box 141, Moss Vale NSW 2577


Further Information


Once your application is received, a Council Officer will contact you if further information is required. For more information about your application or Council's obligations under the GIPA Act you can:


  • Contact us:

Danielle Lidgard

Integrated Planning & Reporting and Governance Coordinator 

Telephone: (02) 4868-0888

Email: mail@wsc.nsw.gov.au



  • Contact the NSW Information and Privacy Commission:

Website: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au (external link)

Email: ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au

Telephone: 1800 NSW IPC (1800 472 679)



Last Updated: June 29th, 2017
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