Access to information

What is the GIPA Act?

The GIPA Act was established to provide an open and transparent process for giving the public access to government information. Under the GIPA Act, members of the public have a right to access government information, except where there is an overriding public interest against releasing that information.

Upper Hunter Shire Council provides access to information in accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA) 2009 in four ways.

Mandatory release: Certain information, referred to as open access information, must be published on the agency's website, free of charge.

Proactive release: Beyond mandatory release, agencies are encouraged (and authorised) to release as much government information as possible.

Informal request: Agencies are encouraged to informally release information, by excusing the need for a formal application (and fee) to be submitted.

Formal application: This is the last resort if information is not accessible in any of the above 3 ways. Decisions made in response to formal applications can be reviewed.

The GIPA Act applies to:

  • NSW government departments
  • NSW local councils
  • NSW state-owned corporations
  • Universities
  • NSW ministers and their staff

Under the GIPA Act, you have the right to access government information that is stored by us, unless it goes against public interest for this information to be disclosed.

For more information:

Request Council Information

Building/Development Applications Search & Supply

Requests for BA and DA files that pre-date 1 July 2010 will incur a $126 search and supply fee.

Certain information contained in  development applications made on or after 1 July 2010 is provided as open access under the GIPA Act and is therefore provided free of charge. 

Our online DA Tracker can be used to find the date a Development Application was lodged.  The DA Tracker will display information back to 1998.

Building/Development Applications - Search & Supply Application

DA Search and Supply Fact Sheet(PDF, 247KB)

Informal request

If you are unable to find information you are looking for on our website you can make an informal request by completing the application form below. Search fees will apply for information that is not open access.

Please note: the GIPA Act provides no statutory timeframe by which Informal requests must be decided within. 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 (s8(3)). Council can decide however by what means information is to be released in response to an informal request (s8(4)).

If you are requesting Building or Development Application information you must submit your request using the Building/Development Applications - Search & Supply Application form.

Informal Access Application

Formal request

Formal requests are usually required if the information you need:

  • Is sensitive information that requires careful consideration in terms of whether it may go against public interest for this information to be disclosed.
  • Contains confidential information.
  • Contains the personal information of another person.
  • Contains information about third parties.
  • Would require a significant amount of time and/or resources to provide the information.

To make a formal information request:

  • Complete our formal request application 
  • Lodge the form at a council office
  • Pay the $30 application fee. Additional processing fees may apply if your request takes longer than usual. We’ll let you know if that’s the case.
  • You’ll be notified within 20 working days. We may request an extension under some circumstances.
  • If your application is refused, you’ll receive a refund on your application fee.
    Processing charges at a rate of $30 per hour can be imposed and a  50% reduction in processing charges may be granted to applicants in cases of financial hardship and where information applied for is of special benefit to the public generally.
  • If an application concerns the personal or business affairs of a third party, Council is required to take reasonable steps to consult with the third party to obtain their views. When making a decision Council must take into account any views offered by the third party.
    Processing fees may apply for locating information, consultation and decision-making. However, if your application relates to your personal affairs, you are entitled to up to 20 hours of free processing time


Formal Access Application


Reasons we may refuse to provide information

A request for information may be refused if:

  • There is an overriding public interest against disclosing the information.
  • The information is exempt.
  • Searching for the requested information would require unreasonable and substantial diversion of our staff resources.

Information that is against public interest

Under the GIPA Act, we are not permitted to provide information to you if it may be against public interest for us to do so. We are required to consider public interest, if your request falls into any of the following categories:

  • Responsible and effective government
  • Law enforcement and security
  • Individual rights, judicial processes and natural justice
  • Business interests of agencies and other persons
  • Environment, culture, economy and general matters
  • Secrecy provisions (in legislation other than those listed in Schedule 1)
  • Exempt documents under interstate Freedom of Information legislation.

We aren’t allowed to use the following reasons when considering public interest:

  • That disclosure might cause embarrassment to, or loss of confidence in, council.
  • That any information disclosed might be misinterpreted or misunderstood by any person.
  • Information that is exempt
  • In addition to considering public interest, the GIPA Act says we are not permitted to provide information to you if it falls into one of the following categories:
  • Information subject to an overriding secrecy law.
  • Information subject to the direction or order of a court or other body with the power to receive evidence on oath.
  • Information subject to legal professional privilege.
  • 'Excluded information' (judicial and prosecutorial information, information about complaints handling and investigative functions, competitive and market sensitive information and information in relation to specific functions of the Public Trustee).
  • Documents affecting law enforcement and public safety.
  • Specific information relating to transport safety.
  • Specific reports concerning the care and protection of children.
  • Specific information relating to Aboriginal and environmental heritage.

Making an appeal

If you are denied access to information or are aggrieved by Council's decision, you are entitled to apply for a review of the decision. There are three options available:

  • Apply to us for an internal review
  • Apply for a review by the Information Commissioner
  • Apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an administrative review