Information for applicants
Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 - GIPA Act
What is the
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (
or ‘GIPA Act’)
an enforceable right to access information held by government agencies,
including the NSW Department of Education and Communities (‘DEC’), unless
there is an overriding public interest against disclosing the information.
There are 4 ways that the Department makes information available:
1. Mandatory disclosure of open access information –
the Department must
publish certain information on its website, free of charge
2. Proactive release –
the Department will proactively release as much
government information as possible, in an appropriate manner and free of charge
or at the lowest reasonable cost
3. Informal release –
the Department may informally release information in
response to a request without the need for a formal access application, subject to
4. Formal release –
the Department may provide access to information under
Before you make an access application for formal release, please visit the
Department’s website, www.det.nsw.edu.au/about-us/information-access
contact the Information Access Unit by phone 02 9561 8100 or
email [email address]
The information may be publicly available or
available outside the formal process.
The NSW Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) oversees the GIPA Act and
provides information for the public. Visit their website: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
Should I make
If you cannot find the information you want on our website, you can request that
a request for
the information be released informally.
There is no fee or charge and no application form, though we may ask you to put
your request in writing. If you are seeking your own personal information, or your
child’s personal information, you will need to provide identification, for privacy
Information requested will generally be provided unless there is an overriding
public interest against disclosing it or if the work involved would impact
unreasonably on resources.
The Department cannot be made to provide information in response to a request
for informal release and can impose conditions. If the information is not available
under informal release, you have the right to make a formal access application.
To find out if the information you require is suitable for informal release,
please contact the business centre
most likely to hold the information. For general
information about the Department, contact the Schools and Community Senior
Information Officer by phone: 02 9561 8999 or email: [DEC request email]
NSW Department of Education and Communities – Information Access
Level 7, 35 Bridge St Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 33 Sydney NSW 2001 T 9561 8151 F 9561 1157
E [email address]
What is an
An access application is a formal request for access to government information
held by the Department. It can be used when other forms of access are not
The requirements for access applications are:
(a) It must be in writing sent to or lodged at an office of the agency concerned,
(b) It must clearly indicate it is an access application made under the
Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
(c) It must be accompanied by a fee of $30
(d) It must state a postal address as the address for correspondence in
connection with the application
(e) It must include such information as is reasonably necessary to enable the
government information applied for to be identified.
You can write your own application or use the suggested application form,
available on the Department’s website.
What can I ask
You can apply for access to information that is contained in records that are
currently held by the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
“Record” means a source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written
form or by electronic process or other means.
We may decide to create a new record to respond to your application (e.g. create
a summary document rather than to copy all of the source documents), but we are
not required to do so.
The Department is not required to search for information that would require an
unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources, and is not required to search
backup systems unless the record was lost or incorrectly destroyed.
If you are unsure of what to ask for, contact the Information Access Unit for help.
The main purpose of creating an accident report is so the Department can use the
information in any future legal proceedings. This legal professional privilege
applies to the accident report and statements made by DEC staff. Under the GIPA
Act there is an overriding public interest against disclosing this kind of information.
For this reason, if you request information about an accident involving a student at
a school or TAFE institute, we are likely to refuse access to the report and any
related statements by DEC staff.
We will usually provide full access to the student’s statement (so long as the
appropriate ID and authority is provided) and partial access to statements made
by witnesses who are not DEC staff (e.g. other students or parents), deleting their
names and any other identifying information.
If you would like further information about access to accident reports, please
contact the Information Access Unit.
The access application fee is $30
and must accompany your application.
does it cost to
You can pay by credit card, cheque or money order payable to the NSW
make a formal
Department of Education and Communities. Please do not send cash by mail. For
details, see the application form
on our website.
See below for information about processing charges.
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You need to provide enough relevant information to enable us to identify
information contained in records held by the Department. You should include a I need to
specific date or time period so that searches can be targeted.
For student records, you should include the name of the last government school
or TAFE college and the last year attended. Please note: student records are
retained for 7 years after the student left the school or until the student is 25 years
old then destroyed. Student counselling records may be held for a longer period
and are not usually stored at the school.
For complaints, staff grievances, and correspondence matters, please identify the
business centre likely to hold the records and the file reference number, if known.
The Department is very large and contains millions of records. Providing relevant
information helps us to target searches and deal with your application more
efficiently. A general request for “all documents containing my name” or “all
records relating to me” is likely to be invalid and will take longer to process.
Do I need to
Yes. If you are seeking access to your personal
information or your child’s
personal information, we need to verify your identity and proof of relationship
between you and your child.
Suitable identification documents include: Australian photo driver licence or
current passport or other forms of ID with your signature and address. Suitable
proof of relationship documents include: Medicare card (with names of children),
Pension or Health Benefit Card or birth certificate.
If you are applying for access to personal information on behalf of another person,
you need to provide identification for both you and the person concerned. You will
also need to provide an authority from the other person. If your child is aged 12
years or over you need to have their authority to access their personal records.
An authority form
is available from our website.
Identification is not required if you are applying for access to non-personal
Are there any
A processing charge of $30 per hour may apply. If so, we will notify you in writing.
There is no charge for the first 20 hours of processing if you are seeking your
You may be entitled to a 50% reduction of processing charge (not the application
fee) if the information requested is of special benefit to the public or on financial
hardship grounds. A 50% reduction also applies to holders of a current Pensioner
Concession Card issued by the Commonwealth, full-time students, and non-profit
organisations. You will need to provide evidence if you seek a reduction.
How long will
We will acknowledge your application within 5 working days of receiving it and let
you know if we can process it.
If it is not a valid application we will let you know what is needed to make it valid.
If it cannot be processed for another reason (e.g. it is not reasonably manageable
for us to process or requests information that is excluded by the GIPA Act) we will
help you to amend your application.
We are required to make a written decision within 20 working days
your valid application. This time may be extended by agreement with you or
where: we need to consult with a third party; we need to retrieve records from
archives; part of the processing period occurs during school holidays; or where we
ask you to pay a deposit for processing charges.
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How will the
Information may be released in full or released with deletions. If the records
released amount to more than 20 pages our policy is to provide you with a copy of
the records on a compact disc (CD). If you require access in another way, please
contact the Information Access Unit.
The decision will include a leaflet outlining your rights of review.
Detailed information and links are provided on the Department’s
Who can I
speak to about
If you still have questions you can contact an Information Access Officer:
By phone: 9561 8100 or
By email: [email address]
Where do I
your access application and payment to:
Manager, Information Access Unit
NSW Department of Education and Communities
PO Box 33,
SYDNEY NSW 2001
to [email address]. I
f you are paying by credit card, please scan the
application and payment forms (and ID and authority if required) and send it by
email with your name in the subject line: ‘GIPA access application’.
9561 1157. If you are paying by credit card, please fax the application and
payment forms (and ID and authority if required).
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