How to access information

Forms of Access

Open access information – Proactive release

Council makes its information available to the public free of charge on its website if there is an overriding public interest to do so.

Open access information – Open access information request

Generally, open access information must be available on an agency’s website. A list of particular information needed to be released is provided in a regulation under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

For local councils, Schedule 1 to the GIPA Regulation lists the additional open access information that must be made publicly available, including:

  • annual, financial, and auditors reports, management plans and various codes
  • returns of the interests of Councillors, designated persons and delegates
  • agendas, business papers and minutes of meetings
  • information contained in certain registers
  • plans and policies
  • development applications and associated documents (for applications and decisions made on or after 1 July 2010)
  • information concerning approvals, orders and other documents.

If documents are subject to copyright, you may not be given a copy but you can still view the document.  Documents that typically are subject to copyright can include engineering reports, plans, environmental studies and surveys.  

For more information on open access information, you can visit the Information and Privacy Commission website or review the Open Access Information Fact Sheet.

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Formal application for release of information

Some applications by their nature are considered formal requests for information.  These typically include:

  • information that relates to a third party who must be consulted
  • information that is subject to legal professional privilege
  • information that relates to a third party business that must be consulted
  • information that relates to an investigation carried out by council
  • large volumes of information that involves extensive search
  • information which could not be provided informally
  • you have previously been refused information
  • the material is sensitive in nature and requires careful balancing of public interest considerations

The lodgement of a formal access to information application gives you a right to a review of the decision made by council.

Application and processing fees apply for formal requests.

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Council is required to deal with a Formal Access Application within 20 working days of its receipt. This time may be extended by 10 - 15 days if Council is required to consult with third parties.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by Council in a Formal Access Application, you have a right of appeal. There are three avenues of appeal - internal review, Information Commissioner review and external review by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

  • Internal review:
    You can apply to the Council for an internal review. This is a review by someone more senior than the original decision maker and there is a $40 fee. You have 20 working days from receiving notice of a decision to ask for an internal review.
  • Review by the Information Commissioner:
    If you are not satisfied with the internal review, or do not want one, you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. You have eight weeks from being notified of a decision to ask for this review.
  • Review at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal:
    If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Information Commissioner or the internal reviewer or if you do not want to take these options, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). If you have already had a review by the Information Commissioner, you have four weeks from notification of the decision to make this application. If you haven’t had a review by the Information Commissioner, you have eight weeks from notification of the decision to make this application.