Access to Information
Your right to access information held by Yass Valley Council is governed by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA). On 1 July 2010, the GIPA Act came into effect as the new right to information legislation, repealing and replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (FOI Act) and Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1993.
The GIPA Act creates new rights to information that are designed to meet community expectations of more open and transparent government and encourage agencies (including Local Governments) to proactively release government information.
Release of information by Council under the GIPA Act will be determined by a public interest test. Section 13 of the GIPA Act, states that 'there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of information if (and only if) there are public interest considerations against disclosure and, on balance, those considerations outweigh the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure'.
You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW Government information on the Information Privacy Commission NSW (IPC) website.
The public can access Council information digitally, via our online portal, or by viewing requested documentation at the Council's Administration Office (by appointment only).
There are four ways in which council information is available under the GIPA Act:
Mandatory Release (section 6 of the GIPA Act)
The GIPA Act requires NSW government agencies to publish ‘Open Access Information’ on their website, free of charge unless to do so would impose unreasonable additional costs or strain to the organisation and its resources. To see if information is already publicly available, search Council’s website. Refer to Council’s Agency Information Guide for a full list of information available.
Proactive release (section 7 of the GIPA Act):
Beyond mandatory release, NSW agencies are encouraged (and authorised) to publicly release as much government information as possible. This information should be available in an appropriate manner (including online), free of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost. It is the responsibility of Council’s General Manager (GM) to determine whether information held by Council is proactively released. The GM must ensure that all commercially sensitive information, as well as personal and identifying information is redacted from any document prior to being proactively released comply with the Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998.
Informal release (Section 8 of the GIPA Act):
NSW agencies are encouraged to informally release information without the need for a formal access application (and associated fee) to be submitted. Information will be informally released, where appropriate and provided there is not overriding public interest against the release of information. Council encourages applications for access to be made initially under the informal request provisions set out in Section 8 of the GIPA Act. You can also refer to Council's GOV-POL-13 Access to Information Policy and Agency Information Guide.
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 (section 8(3)). Council can decide however by what means information is to be released in response to an informal request (section 8 (4)).
For access to the majority of information held by Council, you should make application by lodging Form 73 - Informal Access (no fee is required and access is provided digitally via Council's online portal). In the case where the request involves personal or sensitive information or requires consultation with a third party Form 74 - Formal Access to Information Application will need to be submitted.
Formal application (section 9 of the GIPA Act):
Under the GIPA Act, Council can release information in response to a formal access application. This is the last resort for obtaining Council information if it is not accessible in any of the three ways outlined above.
Your request will be dealt with under the Formal Access Provisions of Part 4 of the GIPA Act and Form 74 - Formal Access to Information Request will be required to be submitted, with a $30 application fee, if your application involves any of the following:
- Large volume of information.
- Estimated processing time exceeding one hour.
- Extensive research and substantial resources are required.
- The information requires consultation with a third party to which it relates prior to the release of the information.
An application will only be deemed valid if it meets the following requirements:
- It must be in writing.
- Lodged with the correct agency.
- Be accompanied by a $30 application fee.
- State that you are seeking information under the GIPA Act.
- Be clear and specific about the information requested.
- Include a postal address for response.
The application process will take up to 20 working days, unless you agree to extend the time. However, if Council needs to seek further information from a third party or from archives, it may take an additional 10-15 working days. Council will notify you if the process will take longer, why and when it will be completed. Additional processing charges at a rate of $30 per hour may also apply as part of deciding the application.
To access information about development applications currently on exhibition including applications, planning reports, consents and plans, please visit our DA Notifications page.
If you wish to view information on a property file held by Council, you will need to submit an informal request by completing Form 167- View a Property File. If you are requesting information on a property you looking at purchasing (or are not the property owner), you will need to obtain a letter signed by the owner giving permission for you to view the information. This may be obtained via the real estate agent, solicitor or representative of the owner.
Council’s ability to provide access to certain information, under both formal and informal access applications, can be impacted by copyright restrictions. In certain circumstances, Council cannot provide copies of information (including digitally) unless it receives the copyright owner’s written consent. If you know the copyright owner, please have them contact Council by emailing Council@yass.nsw.gov.au and requesting a Consent to Council - Copyright Form. Council can allow members of the public to have 'view only' access for the purposes of the GIPA Act.
Under the Schedule 1, (2)(a) of the GIPA Regulation 2009, returns disclosing the interest of Councillors and designated persons are available for inspection at Council office free of charge, during ordinary business hours.
For more information please see the IPC’s Guidelines for local councils on the disclosure of information.
Council can only release property owner details if they are a business or corporation. In compliance with privacy laws, we do not release individual ownership details. You can apply for individual property ownership information from NSW Land Registry Services.
In accordance with Section 27 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA), Council is required to maintain a register that records information about each government contract which has (or is likely to have) a value of $150,000 or more (class 1 contracts). This requirement however, does not apply to contracts entered into by Council before commencement of the GIPA Act on 1 July 2010. Alternatively, Council may make some of this prior information available within the contracts register.
Under Section 35 (2)(b) of the Act, Council is not required to publish their contracts register on the e-tenders website, making this page the centralised location for all current contracts entered into by Council since 1 July 2010. Contracts that must be included in the government contracts register are those:
- between an agency and a private sector contractor for a value of $150,000 or more, and involve:
- the contractor undertaking a specific project such as construction, infrastructure or property development
- the contractor agreeing to provide specific goods or services
- the transfer or lease of real property.
Note: Employment contracts do not need to be included in the register.
The Act provides for three different classes of contracts, each with different information disclosure requirements.
- Class 1
- A contract which the agency is a party that has (or is likely to have) a value of $150,000 or more
- Class 2
- Additional information is required to be entered in the government contracts register for class 1 contracts to which any of the following paragraphs applies (class 2 contracts):
- there has not been a tender process, the proposed contract has not been made publicly available and the terms and conditions of the contract have been negotiated directly with the contractor,
- the proposed contract (whether or not made publicly available) has been the subject of a tendering process and the terms and conditions of the contract have been substantially negotiated with the successful tenderer,
- the obligations of one or more parties under the contract to maintain or operate infrastructure or assets could continue for 10 years or more,
- the contract involves a privately financed project as defined by guidelines published by the Treasury (as in force from time to time),
- the contract involves a transfer of a significant asset of the agency concerned to another party to the contract in exchange for the transfer of an asset to the agency.
- Class 3
- If a class 2 contract has a value, or likely value of more than $5 million, it becomes a class 3 contract. Agencies must publish a copy of a class 3 contract on the register of government contracts.
Council's Disclosure Log identifies information and documents that have been released by a formal application process. Formal access applications received that are likely to be of interest to members of the public, will be published in this disclosure log. The disclosure log contains non-personal information only.
Information not disclosed
Council makes decisions about open access information that may not be disclosed due to an overriding public interest. Items not disclosed are included in Council's Disclosure Log and will include detail on the information requested and the public interest considerations against disclosure that resulted in Council's decision not to release the information.