The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (known as the GIPA Act) replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) on 1 July 2010.
How does the GIPA Act allow access to information?
The GIPA Act establishes a comprehensive system for public access to government information. The objective of the GIPA Act is to make 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; and 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 Office of the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner's roles include:
- Promoting public awareness and understanding of the 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 Act to the Minister responsible
You can find more information on the website of the Office of the Information Commissioner.
The Privacy Commissioner
It should be noted that 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 Privacy and Personal Information 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.