Public access to government information
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (the GIPA Act) replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) (the FOI Act) on 1 July 2010.
The GIPA Act establishes a comprehensive system for public access to government information.
The GIPA Act makes government information more accessible to the public by:
- requiring government agencies to make certain sorts of information freely available
- encouraging government agencies to release as much other information as possible
- giving the public an enforceable right to make access applications for government information
- restricting access to information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
The public access to government information system is overseen by the Information and Privacy Commission.
The Information Commissioner's roles include:
- promoting public awareness and understanding of the GIPA Act
- providing information, advice, assistance and training to agencies and the public
- dealing with complaints about government agencies
- investigating agencies' systems, policies and practices
- reporting on compliance with the GIPA Act to the Minister responsible.
The GIPA Act complements other regimes by which the public can access information held by government. It does not detract from any other rights of access to information that exist under other legislation or policies. Other legislation that may be particularly relevant includes:
- The Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, which allows individuals to obtain access to, and to apply for amendment of, information held about them by NSW government agencies. For more details, please see the website of the NSW Privacy Commissioner.
- The Court Information Act 2010, which provides for public access to information held by Courts about judicial proceedings — see the NSW Department of Justice website for more details.