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Access to Information Held by Council

COVID-19 Update


Due to recommendations made and restrictions imposed by the State and Federal Governments, Council's Civic Centre is currently open to the public in a limited capacity.


There are certain circumstances in which Council cannot lawfully provide copies of information and must make such information available by inspection only. This is particularly relevant where information is subject to copyright. Copies of documents containing copyrighted information can only be provided to members of the public with the written consent of the copyright owner, or in other limited circumstances as provided by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). As such, without written consent or a lawful exception, Council makes copyrighted information available to members of the public by inspection only.


As such, in order to ensure that the recommendations made and restrictions imposed by the State and Federal Government are implemented, access to information via inspection at Council's Civic Centre is limited to days and times as determined by Council. Inspections of information are strictly by appointment only. For further information regarding appointments, please contact Council's Customer Service team on 02 4868 0888.


Council will (wherever practical) provide information about the copyright owner to members of the public so that they may make their own enquiries with the copyright owner and request that Council be provided with written consent to provide copies of documents containing copyrighted information. Members of the public should be aware that Council's ability to provide information about copyright owners may be limited by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, therefore Council cannot guarantee that it will be able to provide such information in all circumstances. See Privacy Guidelines for further information about Council's privacy obligations.


For further guidance regarding access to information in the present circumstances, visit the NSW Information and Privacy Commission's webpage COVID-19: Information for Citizens.


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 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.


PDFAgency Information Guide (PDF, 793kB)


How To Access Information Held by Council


To access information held by Council:


  1. Use the search function for Council's website to determine whether the information is already publicly available.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Even if you lodge an informal request for access to information, the GIPA Act provides that Council cannot be required to deal with an informal request. 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.


Persons wishing to lodge a formal access application may do so by submitting a Formal Access to Information Application form, available below.


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.


Copyright


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. 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 at Fact Sheets, Guidelines and other Resources.


Forms and Lodgement


FormFile TypeFile Size

Informal Request for Access to Information Form

PDF 

276kB

Formal Access to Information Application Form

PDF

320KB



Completed forms may be submitted:

In Person
Wingecarribee Shire Council Civic Centre
68 Elizabeth Street
Moss Vale NSW 2577

By Post
Governance Officer
PO Box 141
Moss Vale NSW 2577

Email


Further Information


For further information contact:


Corporate Strategy and Governance Team

Telephone: 02 4868 0888

Email: mail@wsc.nsw.gov.au


NSW Information and Privacy Commission

Website: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au 

Telephone: 1800 NSW IPC (1800 472 679)

Email: ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au


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Last Updated: September 17th, 2020
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