Informal release of information

What is informal release of information?

The informal release of information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA Act) provides benefits for agencies and citizens, and increases access to information.

It can be a more efficient, flexible and timely way for both agencies to release and for citizens to access information. The effectiveness of this pathway can be enhanced through sound agency practices, recognising the safeguards for staff who release information and by linking the pathway to agency access mechanisms, in particular Agency Information Guides (AIGs).

‘Informal release’ occurs when an agency gives out information in response to a request, without requiring the person requesting it to lodge a formal access application under Part 4 of the GIPA Act.

Agencies can decide how the information is released, either by:

  • phone
  • email
  • letter
  • fax
  • in person.

Information can also be released in an audio-visual format, or by providing view-only access. Most agencies already release information in these ways.

Releasing information under informal release

Agencies can also impose conditions on the informal release of information, such as its access or use, or other conditions such as charges or timeframes.

Agencies may facilitate the release of information informally by deleting any part of the information that would otherwise result in an overriding public interest consideration against disclosure.

Informal requests for information must be dealt with by agencies to facilitate and encourage promptly, and at the lowest reasonable cost, access to government information.

Resources for agencies

The IPC has several pieces of guidance for NSW agencies to improve their understanding, and facilitate sound practices, of informal release.  

Training webinar for agencies

The IPC Training Webinar on Informal Release was released as part of Right to Know Week NSW 2023 and was developed for NSW agencies to learn about effective and efficient informal release of government information that better serves agencies and citizens alike.

The Training Webinar can be viewed below or via the IPC’s YouTube Channel.

Video Url