Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) came into effect on 1 July 2010. It replaced the previous Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. The new right to information laws promote openness, accountability and transparency and will make government agencies more proactive in providing information to the public.
The GIPA Act applies to personal and non-personal documents. Personal documents are those that are about a particular individual. Non-personal documents cover all other documents and publications, eg policies, planning documents, strategic plans.
In addition, the Government Information (Public Access) Amendment Regulation 2010 under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 was made on 18 June 2010.
The new system is a complete re-think of public access to information. It requires government agencies to proactively release documents to improve openness, transparency and accountability in government including information held by providers of goods and services contracted by government agencies.
GIPAA establishes a model of openness under which formal applications for access to information should be a last resort. It authorises and encourages the release of information proactively, limited only by legitimate public interest considerations.
How do I get Far West LHD Information?
There are four ways in which information held by Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) is available under these new reforms: mandatory release, informal release, proactive release and release through a formal access application.
Much of the information held by FWLHD is already publicly available. The following are resources you may wish to review, which are regularly updated:
- The Far West LHD Health internet site. Here you will find information about FWLHD – our goals, purpose and values. Hospitals and Health Service information, employment opportunities, consumer participation, capital projects, a list of publications and reports, as well as our contact details.
- Publication Guide
Information is readily available on the Far West LHD Health internet site If you are seeking information not available please contact us on 02 6841 2259 or by e mail by clicking here.
- Policy documents - A list of LHD Policies can be viewed by clicking here.
- Government Contracts
The LHD register of government contracts is available on the Government Tenders website.
- Disclosure Log
The Disclosure Log is available on the LHD website, which lists formal non-personal determinations made.
- Open Access Information not released
Under the GIPAA, when deciding whether or not to release information, government agencies must consider whether there is an overriding public interest against releasing the information. This record indicates the general nature of the information concerned.
- Information tabled in Parliament
Information about Far West LHD contained in any document tabled in Parliament by or on behalf of the LHD (other than any document tabled by order of either House of Parliament).
Information will be released without the need for a formal application, unless there are good reasons to require one. Your first point of contact should be the Right to Information Unit, on 02 6841 2259.
You can ask FW LHD what information it will make available to the public, in addition to the information available on the website. The LHD is encouraged to take the initiative to release as much government information as possible, in an appropriate manner and free of charge (or at lowest reasonable cost).
In limited circumstances, access to information will require formal access applications. You can formally request specific information from the Local Health District.
The GIPAA stresses the need to proactively and informally release information, without red tape. Formal applications under the GIPPA should be the exception rather than the rule.
Requests for information received from 1 July 2010 will be managed in accordance with GIPAA. For further information regarding GIPAA please contact the Executive Support Unit by phone on (08) 8080 1469
Note: FWLHD provides other avenues/administrative processes for access to personal/health information. This information is available by clicking on the Right to Information link.
What do I need to know to make a formal access application?
Access to non personal documents are processed under the GIPAA legislation and written applications should be submitted, in the first instance, to the Chief Executive, marked attention to 'Release of Information Officer', PO Box 4061, Dubbo, NSW, 2830.
A valid formal application for access to government information must:
- Be in writing
- State that it is made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW)
- Have an Australian postal address for return correspondence
- provide enough details to help the agency identify the information you want and
- Enclose the application fee of $30 by cheque or money order (cheques made payable to Far West Local Health District).
A copy of the application form that can be used to request information is available by clicking on the link.
Fees and Charges for a Formal Application under GIPAA
|Nature of Application
Access to records
||$30-00 per hour after the first 20 hours
Access to records
||$30-00 per hour
|Amendment of records
Note: There are circumstances where there is a reduction in fees and charges and this should be checked with the Release of Information Officers.
Processing of the request commences with the receipt of the application accompanied by the payment of the appropriate application fee. Cheques should be made payable to Far West Local Health District.
To assist in identifying the relevant documents as much information as possible should be included. If the person is unsure of the existence of a document or what it is called, a phone call to the unit concerned may help with the application.
If there will be considerable cost incurred with your formal access application under GIPAA, you will be advised of the estimated costs before the work starts. Consultation with third parties may also be required depending on the nature of the information requested.
FWLHD may ask for an advance deposit from you (maximum 50%) if the cost estimates for work to be undertaken is for a sum exceeding the application fee. If you do not pay this deposit the LHD may not proceed with the request.
Once a FWLHD officer has made a decision on your access application you will be notified on the outcome of your request. If access is not provided, either in whole or in part, you will be advised of the reasons for this decision.
What if I disagree with a decision regarding my formal access application?
You have a right to request a review of a decision regarding the release of information if you disagree with any of the specified agency decisions as set out under the GIPA Act, s80.
For further information refer to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) Fact Sheet on your Review Rights under the GIPA Act available from the OIC at www.oic.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1800 463 626.
There are three options to have a decision reviewed:
- Internal review- you can apply to FW LHD for an internal review. The review is undertaken by someone more senior to the original decision maker and there is a $40 fee (except if there is a “deemed refusal” because the LHN did not process your application in time). You have twenty working days from the time you received the notice of decision to ask for an internal review. A request for an internal review should be made using the FWLHD Internal Review Form or in a letter.
- External review by the Information Commissioner – if you are not satisfied with the internal review or do not want one to be conducted by the LHD you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. You have eight weeks from being notified of the decision to ask for this review.
- External review at the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) – If you are not happy with the decision of the Information Commissioner or FWLHD internal reviewer or you do not want to take these options you can apply to the ADT. If you have already had a review by the Information Commissioner, you have four weeks from notification of the decision to make this application. If you have not had a review by the Information Commissioner you have eight weeks from notification of the decision to make this application.