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Accessing Council Information

Council publishes a range of information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act).

To help you apply for access to information Council has adopted the following documents.

  • Public Information Access Policy - outlines Council’s commitment to openness and transparency regarding accessing Council information.
  • Agency Information Guide - describes Council’s structure, functions, how it operates, what government information is held and how you can access this information.

Council must comply with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (PPIPA Act) which protects personal information and the privacy of individuals.

Council has developed a Privacy Management Plan in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Act and other legislation concerning public access to information. 

Council is committed to ensuring all requests to access Council information are processed in a timely and efficient manner and in accordance with:

How do I get access to information?

Firstly, search Council’s website, to see if the information is already available. If it isn’t already on Council’s website you can contact a customer service officer for assistance or refer to Council's Agency Information Guide.

1. Search Council’s website

Council publishes the following information on its website meeting requirements relating to open access information:

Codes, plans, policies and reports

Registers and returns

Agendas, business papers and minutes

Planning and development documents

  • Development applications under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EP&A Act) and associated documents;
  • Note: DA's prior to 1 July 2010 will now require a Formal Access Application in accordance with Schedule 1, Clause 3 (2)(c) of the GIPA Act; 
  • Records of approvals granted, any variation from local policies with reasons for the variation and decisions made on appeals concerning approvals;
  • Local policies adopted by Council concerning approvals and orders;
  • Records of building certificates under the EP&A Act;
  • Plans of land proposed to be compulsorily acquired by Council;
  • Leases and licences for the use of public land classified as community land; and
  • Environmental planning instruments, development control plans and plans made under sections 7.4 and 7.11 and 7.12 of the EP&A Act that apply to land within Council’s area.

Copyright Notice:

A large amount of information which is available for public access belongs to third parties and is therefore subject of copyright laws, such as plans and reports submitted with development applications. Access to this information will not be provided to members of the public unless applicants have the consent of the copyright owner before Council providing the information. 

Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW)

Council may provide you with the name and postal address of your adjoining neighbours upon application for the purpose of sharing of expenses to construct or repair a dividing fence in accordance with the Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW).

To apply for adjoining owners contact details you will need to complete the Informal GIPA Dividing Fences Request Form.Please note you will be required to provide photo identification with your application.

2. Contact Council and ask for the information

 

Council is authorised to release information unless there is a public interest against disclosure. To enable the release of as much information as possible, Council is also authorised to redact content from a copy of information to be released, if the inclusion of the redacted information would otherwise result in an overriding public interest against disclosure.

If the information you are seeking is not on Council’s website, contact us and we will advise you whether the information:

  • Is open access information that is already available and how you can access the information;
  • Can be made available as part of a proactive release of information
  • Can be disclosed to you through informal release, or
  • Requires you to submit a formal GIPA application.  

You can contact us by telephoning (02) 4993 4100 asking to speak with a staff member from the relevant area that can assist with your enquiry. For example, if you are seeking to access information about a dog or parking, request to speak with Ranger Services, or if you are seeking to access information about a Development Application, request to speak to Development Services.  

Alternatively, you can contact us by lodging an Informal Access Request Form.  

PROCESSING TIMEFRAME FOR INFORMAL GIPA REQUESTS: Council will endeavour to process requests as soon as possible, however it may take 4 – 6 weeks to finalise information requests for access (NB. The GIPA Act does not impose a timeframe for processing such informal requests).

3. Submit a formal GIPA application

A Formal Access Application is required in the following circumstances:

  • if information is not available via proactive or informal release, or
  • if you require access to DA documents prior to 1 July 2010, or 
  • the request involves a large volume of information (generally requiring more than 30 minutes of processing time), or,
  • the request requires extensive research and accordingly will involve an unreasonable amount of time and resources to produce, or
  • the request contains personal or confidential information about a third party which may require consultation, or
  • the request is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of the consideration in favour of and against disclosure, then;

A Formal Access Application must:

  • be in writing, and
  • specify it is made under the GIPA Act, and
  • state an Australian Postal address, and
  • be accompanied by the $30.00 fee as required per section, and
  • provide a response to all questions posed within the form, and
  • provide sufficient detail to enable Council to identify the information requested.

PROCESSING TIMEFRAME FOR FORMAL GIPA APPLICATIONS – (section 57 of the GIPA Act):

Formal GIPA requests where no consultation is required - 20 working days.

Formal GIPA requests seeking to access information which require archival retrieval or access to personal information of third parties – 35 working days.

4. Request a review of the determination made in response to your formal GIPA application

You may seek Council to review the determination made in response to your response to your formal GIPA application if you disagree with it, provided it is a decision of a reviewable nature.  

You can either seek:  

1.    an internal review by another officer of Council who is no less senior than the officer who made the original decision - you must complete the  Internal Review Form and pay the $40 application fee, or  

2.    external review by the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) - contact the IPC directly for more information (telephone on 1800 472 679 or  www.ipc.nsw.gov.au)  

3.    external review by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) - contact NCAT directly for more information (telephone on 1300 006228 or  www.ncat.nsw.gov.au/)  

Fees and Charges

If you request a copy of information held by Council, Council may charge a fee to cover photocopying and/or processing costs where applicable. Please refer to Council’s fees and charges for more information.

Further information

 

Contact Councils Customer Service Centre on:

Phone: 49934100 or,

Email: council@cessnock.nsw.gov.au

You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW government information by visiting:  www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.