Public access to Government information

On 1 July 2010 the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA) replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1989. This GIPA Act requires government agencies to make certain government information publicly available such as policy documents and an Agency Information Guide. This information is called “Open Access Information”. Agencies will be required to release as much information as possible and restricting access to information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. A member of the public has an enforceable right to make access applications formerly known as Freedom of Information applications.

This regime is governed by the Information Commissioner from the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC).

The role of the Information Commissioner includes:

  • Investigating agencies’ systems and practices
  • Promoting public awareness of the GIPA Act
  • Compliance reporting in accordance with the Act to the Minister responsible
  • Compliant handling in relation to government agencies

Further information can be obtained at the Information and Privacy Commission NSW website.

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) does not detract from other rights of access to information that is available under other legislation, in fact it complements other regimes. Other legislation that maybe relevant includes:

The Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act 1998, allows a person to gain access to information held about them and the amendment of that information by government agencies. Further information may be obtained from the NSW Privacy Commissioner website.