Information Access Resources for Agencies

The IPC publishes useful resources to assist public sector agencies and citizens with information access laws in NSW. Click below to expand and view the resources. 

What is an agency?
How an agency is defined under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

Changes to GIPA Act in 2018 for agencies
This fact sheet has been developed to inform agencies of the impact the GIPA Act amendments that came into effect on 28 November 2018, will have on their obligations under the GIPA Act.

Calculation of time under the GIPA Act
The GIPA Act specifies time periods for agencies to make decisions about access applications, as well as time restrictions that apply to applicants who seek reviews of agency decisions.   

Timeframes and extensions for deciding access applications under the GIPA Act
This fact sheet provides guidance on the timeframes for deciding access applications, including circumstances in which extensions may be required or sought, and other special conditions that may extend the decision making period. 

Reasonable searches under the GIPA Act
Section 53 of the GIPA Act sets out the obligations of NSW public sector agencies to undertake searches for information requested in an access application.

UPDATED Why consult third parties
This fact sheet aims to explain to agencies the benefits and requirements of consultation with third parties when considering an application for access to information under the GIPA Act.

Open access information for agencies
This fact sheet aims to explain to agencies that they are required to make a range of open access information publicly available under the GIPA Act and the GIPA Regulation unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information (OPIAD).

Authorised proactive release of government information
This fact sheet provides guidance and a self-assessment tool to NSW public sector agencies about how they can enhance their approach to authorised proactive release of government information under the GIPA Act.

NEW Fundamentals for deciding an access application under the GIPA Act
The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide agency decision makers with practical guidance about their obligations when a formal access application is made under the GIPA Act.

Informal release of information
The way in which government agencies can informally release information under the GIPA Act.

Creating new records under the GIPA Act
This fact sheet aims to provide guidance on the creation of a new record under section 75 of the GIPA Act. 

What is the public interest test?
Under the GIPA Act all government agencies must disclose or release information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. When deciding whether to release information, staff must apply the public interest test.

Digital records and the GIPA Act
This fact sheet provides guidance about the definition of record, in particular digital records under the GIPA Act and what it means for agencies. It also outlines the importance of agencies maintaining good digital recordkeeping practices to ensure it is able to comply with its legislative obligations. 

Microsoft 365 platforms and agencies' compliance obligations
This fact sheet aims to provide guidance on the increasing use of Microsoft 365 platforms by public sector agencies, and the impact on agencies’ compliance obligations under the GIPA Act, PPIP Act, and HRIP Act.

Automated decision-making, digital government and preserving information access rights
This fact sheet provides guidance to agencies on the release of information in relation to the use of automated decision-making systems.

Digital projects
This fact sheet provides guidance to agencies on the information access and privacy issues they should consider where designing and implementing a digital project.

Public officials and personal information under the GIPA Act
This fact sheet has been developed to provide guidance and assist agencies in understanding the definition of personal information under the GIPA Act as it applies to public officials.

The GIPA Act: Agency systems, policies and practices - guidance for principal officers
This fact sheet provides assistance to principal officers in the performance of their responsibilities under the GIPA Act. It provides suggested actions informed by a recent investigation, relevant to cluster arrangements, to improve agency systems, policies and practices that relate to functions of agencies under the GIPA Act.

The role of principal officers and senior executives in supporting the object of the GIPA Act 
This fact sheet is designed to assist principal officers and senior executives to promote awareness and foster an organisational culture that advances the object of the GIPA Act.

Delegation or Authorisation of GIPA Act Functions
This fact sheet is designed to clarify for agencies what is required when the principal officer of the agency proposes to delegate or authorise their functions under the GIPA Act. 

UPDATED Offences under the GIPA Act
The purpose of this fact sheet is to raise awareness of GIPA Act rights and responsibilities, highlight the offence provisions and the circumstances and evidence that may enliven consideration of these offence provisions, and inform members of the public and agencies of the IPC’s role and procedures in dealing with allegations that offences under the GIPA Act have been committed.

Good practice for disclosure logs
This fact sheet provides you with good practice information when publishing disclosure logs.

Processing requests for personal information
How to process a request for information under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 or the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

UPDATED The GIPA Act and Copyright
This fact sheet sets out the open access requirements for local authorities and the form of access provisions applicable to agencies under the GIPA Act as they relate to copyright.

Managing access to audio visual information under the GIPA Act - guidance for agencies
Agencies are creating and holding an increasing amount of audio visual (AV) material. It is important that agencies recognise that AV information is a form of government information and needs to be managed to facilitate release to the public consistent with obligations under the GIPA Act.

UPDATED Safeguards to address the misuse of the GIPA Act
There are mechanisms and safeguards available under the GIPA Act to address misuse of the Act and provide protection to citizens and agencies. 

Guide to section 121 of the GIPA Act for private sector contractors
This fact sheet provides information to contractors that deliver services to the public on behalf of government agencies to assist those entities in understanding how section 121 of the GIPA Act affects them.

Guide to section 121 of the GIPA Act for agencies
This fact sheet aims to help agencies understand how section 121 and clause 12(1)(b) of Schedule 4 of the GIPA Act operates and impacts upon their relationship with contractors who deliver services to members of the public on their behalf.

How the GIPA Act applies to agencies' wholly-owned subsidiaries
This fact sheet aims to provide guidance on when agencies' wholly-owned subsidiary entities are captured under the GIPA Act. 

UPDATED Restraint orders under the GIPA Act
An agency, the Minister or the Information Commissioner may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order to restrain a person from making unmeritorious access applications.

Legal professional privilege
This fact sheet has been prepared for agencies and decision makers to assist them in the practical application of this clause under Clause 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the GIPA Act. It is also designed to inform applicants to assist them in understanding the test that agencies should apply when relying on this clause to refuse access to information applied for under the GIPA Act.

Unreasonable and substantial diversion of agency resources
This fact sheet clarifies what may be considered an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources and what review rights apply if an agency decides to refuse to deal with an access application.

Being investigated by the IPC
The Information Commissioner has powers to conduct investigations into how agencies fulfill their functions under the GIPA Act.

Information Commissioner’s right of appearance in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
This fact sheet has been prepared to provide citizens and agencies information about the Information Commissioner's right to appear and be heard in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in any administrative review of an agency decision under the GIPA Act.

NEW Open access obligations on parent agencies under the GIPA Act
Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) and the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2018 (GIPA Regulation), parent agencies are obliged to publish and keep up-to-date the open access information of their subsidiary agencies.

NEW What is serious wrongdoing? Government Information Contravention
This fact sheet provides a framework for public officials to report serious wrongdoing and for those reports to be properly dealt with is vital for maintaining the integrity of the public service.

Guideline 1: For local government on the disclosure of information
Assist local councils to determine public interest considerations for and against disclosure of information contained in returns in disclosing interests of councillors. 

Guideline 2: Discounted processing charges
Explains how to discount processing charges for information that is of special benefit to the public generally. 

Guideline 3: For local government – personal information on development applications
Assists councils with what can and can't be published on their websites, specifically personal information contained in DAs. 

Guideline 4: Personal information as a public interest consideration under the GIPA Act
How to deal with requests for personal information under the GIPA Act and the personal information of third parties. 

Guideline 5: Consultation on public interest considerations under section 54 of the GIPA Act 
Promotes consistency about how, when and who to consult with under section 54 of the GIPA Act.

Guideline 6: Agency Information Guides 
Summarises the legal obligation for agencies in preparing and updating an AIG, explains the opportunities provided by AIGs to promote Open Government, Open Data and public participation, and offers suggestions for structuring and writing an AIG.

Guideline 7: Open Data
Informs agencies about Open Data and on opening government data in NSW.

Guideline 8: Care Leavers' access to their Out-of-Home Care Records 
Highlights the public interest considerations in favour of government agencies releasing information to those who have experienced out of home care arrangements & assist agencies in their decision making.

Guideline 9: Cabinet information
Assists agencies to understand how the GIPA Act operates with respect to ‘Cabinet information’, including how to identify which information may be captured by clause 2 of Schedule 1.

Guideline 10: Obligations of Ministers and Ministerial Officers under the GIPA Act
Provides guidance and assistance to Ministers’ Offices when exercising functions under the GIPA Act. 

NEW Guideline 11: Informal release of information
Provides information regarding the informal release pathway under the GIPA Act.

Digital Restart Fund: assessing information access and privacy impacts
With the widespread increase in digital service delivery by government, the IPC has reviewed diverse digital projects from a range of agencies involving both government and non-government providers. These projects can contribute to better more effective outcomes through digital service delivery. They can also impact access information and privacy rights.

Managing formal GIPA applications
A guide for agencies containing a flowchart that outlines how to work through an access application.

Quick Guide to my Responsibilities under the GIPA Act  A quick guide for public sector employees on their responsibilities under the GIPA Act.

Practice Guide: Redacting signatures on public facing documents
The purpose of this guidance is to provide public sector agencies with a framework to consider the redaction of signatures from information to be made publicly available and provide an overview of contemporary public interest considerations, including cybercrime and the risk of identity theft.

The IPC has developed a toolkit titled, ‘The Essential Guidance Toolkit on information access and privacy fundamentals’ which includes fundamental regulatory guidance to ensure that agencies are able to meet their requirements under NSW information access and privacy legislation. It has been arranged on a functional basis that reflects agency, senior executive and decision-maker responsibilities.

The toolkit is available in different versions for public sector agencies and local government. Download the toolkit below:

Template Contract Clause – Access to information (Word)
Template clause for agencies to include in contracts with third parties regarding right of access to contractor records - GIPA Act s121. Updated Dec 2019.

Template Contract Clause – Consultation with third parties (Word)
Template clause for agencies to include for contracts with third parties regarding consultation - GIPA Act s54. Updated Jan 2020.

UPDATED Template - Disclosure log example (Word)
Template example for agencies to record their disclosure log. Updated June 2024.

Template Form - GIPA Access Application (Word)
Template for GIPA Access Applications for agencies to use and amend specific to their agency. Updated June 2022.

UPDATED Template Form - GIPA Access application running sheet (Word)
Running sheet for access applications for agencies. Updated June 2024.

UPDATED Template Form - Internal review application (Word)
Internal review application form for agencies. Updated June 2024.

Template Letter - Third party consultation (Word)
Consultation with a third party. Updated June 2022.

NEW Template Letter - Informal release decision template letters (Word)
Template letters advising decisions for informal release of information requests.

NEW Template - Agency Informal Release Record (Excel)
Sample agency record template to assist agencies in developing their own for informal release requests.

UPDATED Template Letter - Consultation with another government agency (Word)
Consultation with another government agency letter template. Updated June 2024.

Template Letter - Third party advice of agency decision to release information and proposal to include disclosure log (Word)
Notice to third party of agency decision to release information including disclosure log letter template. 

Template Letter - Request for Advance Notice of Processing Charges (Word)
Letter requesting for advance deposit of processing charges. September 2021

Template - Notice of decision (Word)
Notice of decision template. Updated October 2023.

GIPA Annual Reporting
Agencies should use the IPC GIPA Tool to submit their annual report data to the IPC. Agencies can also use the tool to produce PDF and MS Word reports for use in internal reporting if needed.

NEW Informal access
This checklist covers important information and considerations when managing and deciding an informal access application. It is designed to ensure that the practitioner has given consideration to all steps involved during this process. It contains links to templates and resources for agencies.

Open access information under the GIPA Act and GIPA Regulation - agency requirements
A checklist to assist agencies to comply with open access requirements under the GIPA Act and GIPA Regulation.

Agency Contract Register self-assessment checklist for agencies
This self-assessment checklist is a practical tool for an agency to ensure its published contract register is presented in compliance with the GIPA Act.

Agency Information Guide self-assessment checklist for agencies
This does not prescribe the structure and format that an AIG should follow, but rather assists agencies in reviewing and assessing the AIG to ensure it complies and is effective in promoting Open Government. The IPC also uses this checklist to assess the quality of AIGs received.

Unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources
A checklist to assist agencies with the process for advising and consulting with an access applicant where the Agency forms a view that the access application is potentially an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources

Updated Checklist for reporting a public interest disclosure (PID) alleging a government information contravention
The checklist above ensures that sufficient information is submitted for the Information Commissioner (PC) to decide on action to take.

Creating agency information guides
NOTE: This Knowledge Update is no longer available and has been replaced by Guideline 6: Agency Information Guides and Fact Sheet: Agency Information Guides and the public - published December 2016.

The Contract Register and Contract Disclosures - e-learning module
The IPC has developed an e-learning module to assist agencies to understand contract registers compliance under the GIPA Act

Public Interest Considerations (PICs) resource sheets
Agencies may wish to refer to these resources in making decisions under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). These resources are not intended as legal advice and agencies should obtain their own independent legal advice.

Advancing the objects of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW): an international comparative evaluation of measures used to promote government information release
The report, commissioned through the University of Technology, Sydney provides an insight into the types of practical mechanisms utilised in selected international jurisdictions to promote open government through information sharing and citizen engagement.

Conditions Enabling Open Data and Promoting a Data Sharing Culture 2017
This UNSW Law Report was commissioned by the NSW Information Commissioner and NSW Open Data Advocate to provide contemporary insights to support the promotion of Open Government and Open Data. To do so the Report analysed legislation, policy, regulatory settings, roles and responsibilities for leadership, culture and operations in leading jurisdictions as identified in the Open Data Barometer Report.

NSW Information Commissioner's 10 Year GIPA Data Analysis Overview 2010-2020
The Information Commissioner released a report with analysis, key findings, and recommendations from ten years’ of GIPA data since inception of the Act.

Brochure for agencies - Information access FAQs
Citizens' frequently asked information access questions have been compiled in this brochure, and their answers can all be found on the IPC NSW website

Frequently asked questions - IPC Regulatory Tool
This Fact Sheet is designed to address issues or questions agencies may have about the IPC Regulatory Tool

Animation - Disclosure of interest returns by councils
This animation provides guidance to councils on the requirement to publish returns of interest of councillors, designated staff and delegates in accordance with the GIPA Act.

NEW Animation - e-Governance and Digital Government
Government service delivery in NSW is increasingly digital, and more information is being collected, stored and applied using digital technology. Modern democratic governments allow citizens to participate in decision-making and they must be accountable. By harnessing technology, governments can be more participatory and more accountable. In this way, e-Government can evolve into e-Governance.

NEW Animation - Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and access to information
Increasingly, government information is held digitally, and this information and other data is used to make important decisions about services and policies. These decisions can also be made using technology including AI. e-Governance requires governments to tell citizens what information they have and how decisions are made, including decisions that are informed by AI.