How to Access Council Information
How can you access Council information?
Members of the public are entitled to have access to the majority of council documents.
Inspection of council documents is generally free, although you may have to pay reasonable photocopying charges if you want to have your own copy.
You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW government information on the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) website at http://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au. Also available on the IPC website is a checklist, Tips for Framing your Access Application, which includes key information that can assist you with completing your access application correctly. To access the checklist, please follow the link https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/checklist-tips-framing-your-information-access-application
Which Council documents can you inspect?
The Government Information (Public Access) Act, 2009, specifies which council documents must be available free of charge for people to inspect at council offices during business hours.
These documents include:
A Council may also allow you to access other documents - but this will be a matter for each council to decide, taking into account whether or not they consider it is in the public interest.
Each Council is required to have a designated Public Officer and this person is responsible for assisting people to gain access to council documents.
Other information available from Council are on the following links:
How can you find a Councils website?
You can access a Councils website through the Office of Local Government's website. Select local government directory, then local Councils, the name of your Council and then their web address.
If you think a Council document should be on their website, you can ask the Council to put it on.
Accessing Council information
Council publishes a range of information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
You can use the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA) to apply to access Councils documents if you can’t obtain them under section 12 of the Local Government Act.
Recent changes to open access information of Councils
Please note that under changes to the GIPA Act in September 2018, Councils are no longer required to provide records of development applications or associated documents made before 1 July 2010. (Sch. 1, clause 3(1)(a)(i) , 3(1)(b) and clause 3(2)(c)).
When accessing Council documents, you need to be aware of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 which helps to protect personal information and the privacy of individuals.
Councils are required to develop a privacy management plan under the Act and comply with other legislation regarding public access to information. If you are refused access to documents on the grounds of privacy, you should read a document called ‘Privacy, you and your local council’ which is provided on the Department of Local Government’s website. It provides a brief overview of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act and answers some frequently asked questions.