On 1 July 2010 new right to information legislation, The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act) came into effect, replacing the former Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
The GIPA Act requires local councils to make certain government information publicly available.
Open access information includes the following:
- Publication Guide
- Information about the agency contained in any document tabled in parliament by or on behalf of the agency (other than any document tabled by order of either House of Parliament)
- Policy documents
- Annual Report
- Integrated Planning and Reporting Documents
- Agendas/Minutes of Council Meetings
- Agendas/Minutes of Committee Meetings
- Disclosure log of open access applications
- The agency’s 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
- Contracts Register
There are four ways in which government information is available:
- Mandatory Release:
This generally includes information found on Council’s website such as policy and general documents, the current Publication Guide and Disclosures Log.
- Proactive Release:
These are additional documents that are made available to the public on Council’s website and at the Administration Centre.
- Informal Request:
This is for specific information. Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009Council can choose to release this information without the need for a formal access application. Access via this path may be subject to reasonable conditions such as photocopying charges. Requests for information should be emailed to Council at email@example.com or contacting Council at the Administration Centre on 02 6836 5888.
- Formal Access Application:
If you have not been able to obtain the information you need through any other form of access you can lodge a Formal Access Application. Unlike the Informal Request you have a legally enforceable right to be provided with access unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information. An application fee and processing charge may apply. A formal Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 Application Form will need to be completed and submitted to Council with the application fee. The form is available here.
You can find out more about the new legislation by going to the Office of the Information Commissioner NSW website.