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What is GIPA (FOI)

The Government Information (Public Access) (GIPA) (replacing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act), gives individuals and organisations the legal right to: 

Obtain documents/information held by government agencies &

Appeal against decisions not to grant access to documents/information

It also places significant additional responsibilities on agencies to make information available to the public.

Frequently Asked GIPA Questions

Q1. What does an agency do if someone wants access to my records through GIPA?

The agency should consult you and give you the opportunity to object to the release. You will be required to prove the release of information relating to your personal information should be refused on the grounds there is an overriding public interest against the release. In general terms there is great weight given to the protection of personal information under the GIPA Act. 

Q2. Will the agency release information about my business?

The agency may release information about your business in response to an access application; however, the decision will be subject to the public interest test.

If an access application covers your business information, the agency must consult you to see whether or not you object to the information being released.  Your objection must relate to one or more of the five public interest considerations against disclosure set out in Section 14 of the Act.

If the agency decides that, on balance, there is an overriding public interest against disclosure, then it will not release the information.

Q3. What are the public interest grounds in favour of releasing information?
There is no limit to the matters agencies may consider in favour of releasing information.  Section 12 of the GIPA Act gives some examples of public interest considerations in favour of the disclosure of information.

Q4. What are the public interests against releasing information?
The GIPA Act sets out the only grounds on which agencies may refuse to release information. Some grounds are detailed in Schedules 1 and 2 and do not require the agency to conduct a public interest test.

The only other considerations that may be taken into account in order to withhold information are listed in the Table under section 14. They include the following categories:

- Responsible and effective government
- Law enforcement and security
- Individual rights, judicial processes and natural justice
- Business interests of agencies or other persons
- Environment, economy and general matters
- Secrecy provisions
- Exempt documents under interstate FOI legislation

However, all of these grounds need to undergo a public interest test and the agency can only withhold information if it can prove there is an overriding public interest against the release.

Q5. What do I do if I do not agree with an agency's decision?
If you are the applicant or a third party, you can lodge an Internal Review or proceed straight to the Information Commissioner (1800 472 679) or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) (1300 006 228). There are no fees to appeal to the Information Commissioner, however, there are fees involved in an appeal to NCAT.  For further information, please refer to the Section I’m unhappy with the Decision.

Q6. What can I do if I think my personal records held by the agency are incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading?
You can contact the agency and request an amendment to records under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (or the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 for health records).  The matter will be investigated, and you will be provided with a determination. If you are not satisfied, you can ask for a notation to be placed on the records setting out your views and/or you can appeal to the NSW Civil and AdministrativeTribunal.

Amendment of records under the FOI Act ceased when the GIPA Act started and the Privacy Acts became the only method to use to challenge the accuracy of personal information held by NSW government agencies.

Q7. What are the protections for government agencies and their staff under the GIPA Act?
There are a range of protections under the GIPA Act:
- There is no action for defamation or breach of confidence against agency staff or the authors of documents released when a decision to disclose information is made in good faith.
- No criminal action will be taken when a decision is made, or information disclosed in good faith.
- No action against an agency staff member for personal liability in relation to any action by an agency, or an officer of an agency, where the action was done in good faith for the purposes of executing the Act.

Q8. How much will it cost if I want to make an application?
Agency application fees are nominal and some waive the fees. But approved GIPA application and processing fees (GST exempt) can be provided on further request.


Supporting State and Local Government Agencies, Private Companies, Individuals and the Legal Fraternity, who need help protecting their Privacy or are trying to access information protected by Privacy Legislation.

Phillip Youngman has the experience to provide the advice you need.


0425 372 262


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