Access to Information Held by Council
Access to Information
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA) provides members of the public with the right to access information held by Council, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information.
Council is committed to upholding the following objectives of the GIPA Act:
Authorising and encouraging the proactive release of government information to the public;
Giving members of the public an enforceable right to access government information; and
Restricting access to government information only where 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".
Members of the public should be aware that any record of communication between Council and members of the public is considered to be government information for the purposes of the GIPA Act.
For further information regarding Council's privacy obligations, including access to personal information under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, please see Council's Privacy Guidelines.
Agency Information Guide
Under the GIPA Act, Council must have an Agency Information Guide which describes Council's functions, responsibilities and organisational structure. Council's Agency Information Guide aims to promote a better understanding of Council's work in the community, inform members of the public about the ways in which the community is able to participate in Council's decision-making processes and detail the various types of information held by Council and how that information can be accessed.
WSC Agency Information Guide(PDF, 1001KB)
How To Access Information Held By Council
Use the search function for Council's website to determine whether the information is already publicly available.
View Council's Proactive Release of Information Register for direct access to certain information that Council is required to make publicly available as open access information under the GIPA Act, or that Council has decided to make available to the community. For information that is not available on Council's website, the Proactive Release of Information Register provides information about how that information may be accessed.
View Council's adopted Fees & Charges or contact Council to determine if the information you are seeking is contained in a document that is available for purchase.
If, after taking steps 1-3, you discover that the information you are seeking is not readily available, you may make an informal request or lodge a formal access application to seek access to the information under the GIPA Act. Further information about how to do this is provided below.
Informal Requests for Information
The GIPA Act authorises Council to release government information it holds in response to an informal request for access to that information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. Persons wishing to lodge an informal request may do so by submitting an Informal Request for Access to Information form, available below;
Access to Information Application - Informal (GIPA)
Even if you lodge an informal request for access to information, the GIPA Act provides that Council may require a formal access application to be lodged in certain circumstances, for example:
- where the information sought is not available through proactive or informal release;
- where the information sought is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of public interest considerations in favour of and against disclosure;
- where the information is personal information or other information that is of a kind that requires a third party to be consulted in order to determine whether there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information; or
- where the request may involve a substantial amount of time and resources (for example, where it is likely that more than four hours of processing time may be required to deal with the request).
Formal Access Applications
A formal access application may be lodged in order to apply for access to information held by Council. The GIPA Act provides that, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure, a person who makes a formal access application has a legally enforceable right to be provided with access to that information.
A formal access application must meet the formal requirements set out in the GIPA Act. This includes a requirement that the applicant make payment of an application fee of $30. Additional processing charges of $30 per hour may also be applied for time spent dealing with a formal access application, subject to a discount of up to 50 per cent in certain circumstances as provided by the GIPA Act.
Generally, Council must decide a formal access application within 20 working days of receipt, subject to any suspension or extension to that time frame as provided by the GIPA Act.
Access to Information Application - Formal (GIPA)
The Public Interest Test
The public interest test set out by the GIPA Act prescribes the way in which Council must decide whether there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of government information it holds. The public interest test provides that there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of government information if, and only if, there are public interest considerations against disclosure of the information and, on balance, those considerations outweigh the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure. This test will be applied to all applications for access to government information received by Council.
In order to facilitate access to government information, Council is authorised to redact (delete) information from a copy of a record to be released if including that information would otherwise result in the existence of an overriding public interest against disclosure.
The way in which Council provides access to information may be impacted by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Information that is subject to copyright may be made available for inspection only. Copies of documents containing information that is subject to copyright can only be provided to other persons where the copyright owner has provided Council with written consent to provide a copy. The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) also provides for other limited circumstances in which Council may provide copies of documents that are subject to copyright.
Further information about the relationship between the GIPA Act and copyright has been published by the NSW Information and Privacy Commission on its website via Fact Sheets, Guidelines and other Resources.
Forms and Lodgement
Access to Information Application - Formal
Access to Information Application - Informal