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Access to information

There are a number of ways you can access information from Council:

  • Government Information (Access Public) Act 2009
  • Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

On 1 July 2010 the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act) commenced, repealing and replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) (FOI Act).

As part of this reform, the GIPA Act:

  • upholds rights to information that are designed to meet community expectations of more open and transparent government;
  • maintains there is a presumption in favour of the disclosure of government information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure;
  • authorises and encourages government agencies to proactively release government information;
  • makes it possible for government agencies to release information informally, without the need to submit a formal access application;
  • requires that a government agency must release information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure; and
  • provides applicants with review rights around information access decisions.

Release of information by Council under the GIPA Act will be determined by the public interest test. As provided by section 13 of the Act, there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of information if (and only if) there are public interest considerations against disclosure and, on balance, those considerations outweigh the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure.

You can find out more about right to information, the public interest test and the ways to access government information under the GIPA Act on the NSW Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) website at www.ipc.nsw.gov.au. The IPC is an independent statutory authority responsible for overseeing the provisions of the GIPA Act. Please note the IPC is unable to provide legal advice to stakeholders.

There are four ways in which government information is available under the GIPA Act:

How do I access council information under the GIPA Act?

Council is required to publish the following open access information under section 18 of the GIPA Act:

Council is required to publish the following additional open access information under Schedule 1 of the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Regulation):

Under section 7(3) of the GIPA Act, Council is required to review its proactive release program at least every 12 months, to identify any information we hold that should in the public interest be made publicly available.

The informal release provisions under section 8 of the GIPA Act provide Council with the authority to release information without the need for a formal access application.

Information can be informally requested from Council by submitting the Informal Access Request form, which is available on Council's A-Z forms page.

Please note the GIPA Act provides no statutory time frame by which informal requests must be decided within and Formal Access Applications are prioritised due to strict legislative timeframes. Council is not required to disclose government information pursuant to an informal request and is also not required to consider an informal request for government information (s 8(3)). Council can decide however by what means information is to be released in response to an informal request (s 8(4)).

If you wish to access information in respect of contact details for property owners, Council requires you to submit an informal request. Please be advised that in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, Council is prohibited from providing personal information to third parties without consent.  Or alternatively, you can apply under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, by way of a statutory declaration detailing why you would like this information. Please note NSW Land and Property Information may be able to provide you with the information sought.

Should you wish to obtain copies of plans held by Council, please lodge a Plan Request Form, which is available on Council's A-Z forms page.

Please lodge a Property Development Enquiry Form, which is also available on Council's A-Z forms page, should you require property information only, including dates of Development approvals, Occupation Certificates, Final Inspection and Building Certificates. If copies of documents are required, please lodge an Informal Access Request Form with Council.

If information cannot be accessed through any of the above avenues, a formal application can be submitted to Council. Council will request a formal application be made for information only as a last resort. A formal application is likely necessary if an applicant asks for a large volume of information, if providing access would involve an unreasonable diversion of resources on behalf of Council (i.e. extensive search, retrieval of information from archives), or if the information sought involves personal or business information about third parties that must be consulted before the information can be released.

Section 41 of the GIPA Act lists the formal requirements for making a valid access application:

  • it must be in writing using the Access to Information - Formal Access Application Form is on our A-Z form list and sent to or lodged at Council;
  • it must clearly indicate that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act;
  • it must be accompanied by a $30 application fee;
  • it must state a postal address in Australia as the address for correspondence in connection with the application;
  • it must include such information as is reasonably necessary to enable the government information applied for to be identified.

If you are not satisfied with the decision of Council, you may request a review of any reviewable decision under section 80 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

There are three review options available to you:

  1. Internal review by Council – This review will be undertaken by an officer who is no less senior than the original decision maker.  You are required to complete the internal review form and make a payment of $40 for each application. The Internal Review Application under GIPA form is available from our A-Z forms page.
  2. External review by the Information and Privacy Commission – contact the Commission directly to enquire about an external review by telephone 1800 472 679 or their website www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
  3. External review by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal – contact the Tribunal directly to enquire about an external review by telephone 130 006 228 or their website www.ncat.nsw.gov.au

Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002

Council complies with the provisions of the Health Records & Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) (HRIP Act).


Health information is defined in the HRIP Act to include the following:

(a) personal information that is information or an opinion about:

  1. the physical or mental health or a disability (at any time) of an individual, or
  2. an individual's express wishes about the future provision of health services to him or her, or
  3. a health service provided, or to be provided, to an individual, or

(b) other personal information collected to provide, or in providing, a health service, or

(c) other personal information about an individual collected in connection with the donation, or intended donation, of an individual's body parts, organs or body substances, or

(d) other personal information that is genetic information about an individual arising from a health service provided to the individual in a form that is or could be predictive of the health (at any time) of the individual or a genetic relative of the individual, or

(e) healthcare identifiers but does not include health information, or a class of health information or health information contained in a class of documents, that is prescribed as exempt health information for the purposes of this Act generally or for the purposes of specified provisions of this Act.

The initial cost is $33.00

You can complete the HRIP Act request form below and submit it to Council.

HRIPA & PPIPA Request Form (PDF 48.85 KB)

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Council complies with the provisions of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (PPIP Act).

Personal information is any information or opinion about an individual whose identity is apparent or can be readily identified from the information or opinion (s 4 of the PPIP Act).

In order to deliver a wide range of services to the community Council collects a range of personal information about ratepayers (including businesses) and those who receive services. This information includes:

  • names, address and contact details;
  • property ownership information;
  • credit card/bank account details for those who have provided this information to make payments.

From time to time Council may gather demographic details such as age, income and education/employment information. Council may only collect information that is required for a specific purpose and the information we collect will only be collected as long as it is required.

There is no initial fee to make an application.

You can complete the PPIP Act request form below and submit it to Council.  Or alternatively, you can apply under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, by way of a statutory declaration detailing why you would like this information.

HRIPA & PPIPA Request Form (PDF 48.85 KB)

How do I contact Council to submit a request or application?

Contact Details

Right to Information Officer
Phone: (02) 4980 0255
Fax: (02) 4987 3612
Email: council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

Where can I access further information about right to information?
  • Go to www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
  • Email:  ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au
  • Mail GPO Box 7011, Sydney NSW 2001
  • Visit Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Call 1800 472 679 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)