Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) is the biggest change to freedom of information policy in New South Wales in 20 years. It is having a significant impact on the way the Department releases, collects, records and stores our written and electronic information.
Understanding public information access
The fundamental principle of the GIPA Act is that the public should have access to government information unless, on balance, it would be contrary to the public interest to provide that information.
This applies to the forms of information that have always been publicly available such as annual reports, corporate strategies and statistics. It also applies to policies, general information, reports and data produced at every level of the Department which may in the past have been considered 'internal' information.
What does 'information' mean?
The definition of information under the GIPA Act is very broad and includes whatever is compiled, recorded or stored in writing or electronically.
How can the public access this information?
The Act outlines four ways for the public to access government information:
- Mandatory disclosure - information routinely made publicly available on the department's website
- Proactive release – automatically publishing information to make it available to the public (via print, electronically etc)
- Informal release – releasing information in response to informal requests from the public
- Formal access - involving a formal application process for the release of information
How does the GIPA Act affect my business area?
Continue to routinely release information as part of your usual business practice. Most business areas have policies and guidelines covering public access to information held and any conditions that must be met, for example requiring identification to access personal information. Legal Issues Bulletins may also provide guidance. If you are unsure, check the policies on the website and if still in doubt, check with your supervisor about what can be released.
Records that might be suitable for routine release may include: information on the Department's website; published reports; published statistics; information provided under statutory orders such as subpoenas or court orders. Note that records containing third party information should be considered under guidelines for formal release.
Media requests should continue to be referred to the relevant media liaison officer or the DE Media Unit (T: 9561 8501)
Help for staff – GIPA Act (Schools, Corporate Services, External Affairs and Regulation)
- Informal Release Guidelines (pdf 110 KB)
- Questions and answers about GIPA (PDF 0.05MB)
- How does the GIPA Act affect business areas? (PDF 0.05MB)
- Informal release: checklist for business areas (PDF 0.02MB)
- Complying with contract requirements (PDF 0.05MB)
- Reasonable searches – Guidelines for DE Search Officers (PDF 0.06MB)
- Proactive release guideline (pdf 101 KB) (revised 2017)
Help for schools
NSW public schools already publish large amounts of the information they hold through annual reporting. Below are some resources that will help principals and school staff to make decisions about releasing other information in line with the GIPA Act:
- Guidelines for schools - GIPA Act (PDF 0.05MB)
- Checklist - releasing student records (PDF 0.07MB)
- Information access request log (PDF 0.05MB)
- Released - student records (PDF 0.05MB)
- Managing information in schools - online training module (available only to DoE staff)
What do I need to do?
The GIPA Act does not change your ability to release routine kinds of information. You should continue to respond to the public and provide or publish information in the same way that you have done, subject to privacy considerations. If unsure, please check with your supervisor.
Wherever possible, try to release information in response to an informal request without the need for a formal access application. if you are unsure, check with the Information Access Unit: firstname.lastname@example.org
If the request requires further administration time or review it may lead to a formal information access application. To read about the application process, go to How to access information.
This site uses Google Translate, a free language translation service, as an aid. Please note translation accuracy will vary across languages.
General enquiries about the department:
Schools and Community Senior Information Officer
T 02 9561 8999
Applications under the GIPA Act enquiries:
Information Access Unit
Department of Education and Training
Level 7, 35 Bridge St
SYDNEY NSW 2000
T 02 9561 8100
F 02 9561 1157