Reviews by the Information Commissioner

The NSW Information Commissioner undertakes external reviews of decisions made by agencies about applications, provides advice and assistance, deals with complaints about the conduct of agencies and may investigate the exercise of an agencies functions under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

If you have made an application under the GIPA Act and you are dissatisfied with the decision, you can ask for a review.

What can be reviewed?

The following decisions can be reviewed by the agency involved, the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC), or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

Reviews can be requested on a decision:

  • that an application is not a valid access application
  • to transfer an access application to another agency, as an agency initiated transfer 
  • to refuse to deal with an access application (including such a decision that is deemed to have been made) 
  • to provide access or to refuse to provide access to information in response to an access application 
  • that government information is not held by the agency 
  • that information applied for is already available to the applicant 
  • to refuse to confirm or deny that information is held by the agency 
  • to defer the provision of access to information in response to an access application 
  • to provide access to information in a particular way in response to an access application (or a decision not to provide access in the way requested by the applicant) 
  • to impose a processing charge or to require an advance deposit 
  • to refuse a reduction in a processing charge 
  • to refuse to deal further with an access application because an applicant has failed to pay an advance deposit within the time required for payment 
  • to include information in a disclosure log despite an objection by an authorised objector (or a decision that an authorised objector was not entitled to object)
Who do I ask for a review?

If you are dissatisfied with the decision, you have a number of options. You can:

  • seek an internal review through the agency to which you originally applied for the information
  • approach the NSW Information Commissioner for an external review of the agency’s decision
  • request a review through NCAT.

Type of review

Days to request a review from when you were given the decision

Is there a fee involved?

Internal review by agency 20 working days Yes – $40*
Review by NSW Information Commissioner 40 working days No
NCAT

20 working days from review by Information Commissioner;

Yes

 

40 working days from review by agency

See the NCAT website for more information

*No fee applies for an internal review if the decision is a ‘deemed refusal’ because the agency did not decide your application in time or if the internal review is conducted because the Information Commissioner has recommended the agency reconsider its decision. 

Decisions by a Minister or principal officer

If a Minister or their personal staff, or the principal officer of an agency has made the decision, then you can only ask for a review with the IPC or NCAT.

What if I am a third party?

If you are not the person seeking the information (i.e. a third party), you must seek an internal review (unless that option is not available to you), before applying for an external review by the NSW Information Commissioner. A third party is not entitled to apply to NCAT for an NCAT administrative review of a decision if the person is still entitled to apply for an internal review of the decision under Division 2.  

How do I apply for a review?

All requests for reviews should be in writing:

  • If applying for an internal review, ask the agency involved if they have a form for you to use
  • If applying for an external review, attach all relevant information to your application, including the original request, the notice of decision, details about your concerns, and your contact details
  • Make sure you keep copies for yourself.

The IPC has developed Fact sheet: Your review rights under the GIPA Act.

You can also submit an application for review online via our webform Application for External Review by the Information Commissioner.

What happens next?

If you have asked the NSW Information Commissioner to review a decision, we will:

  • confirm that we have received the request and give you a reference number;
  • notify the agency involved;
  • allocate the request to an Officer of the IPC; and
  • notify you and the agency involved when the request has been allocated, to whom and that the review is in progress.

When we begin an external review we will consider:

  • the decision;
  • the information that was requested;
  • the process the agency followed; and
  •  whether the agency followed the legislative requirements in deciding the application.

During the external review we may ask you or the agency for additional information.

Once we are satisfied that all relevant information has been properly considered in view of the request, we will provide a final report to both parties. Some reports are published on our website, however, we will not publish your name or other personal information without your consent.

What if I am unhappy with the IPC's review?

Once an external review has been finalised by the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC), it cannot be reconsidered by the IPC.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of our review, you may apply for a review with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).