What is the GIPA Act 2009?
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (FOI Act). Like the FOI Act before it, the GIPA Act gives you and other members of the public a legally enforceable right to access government information except when, on balance, it would be contrary to the public interest to provide that information.
How does the GIPA Act 2009 help me?
The GIPA Act 2009 helps you and other members of the public by making government information more accessible. It does this by:
- requiring government agencies to make certain types of information openly available
- encouraging government agencies to proactively release as much other information as possible
- providing the public with the enforceable rights to make both an informal and formal request for government information
- restricting access to information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure
The GIPA Act works in conjunction with other access-to-information systems in New South Wales. The main system is the Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act 1998 (PIPP Act). The PIPP Act allows individuals to obtain access to, and to apply for the amendment of, information held about them by NSW government agencies. For more details, visit the NSW Privacy Commissioner website.
What are the main differences between the GIPA Act and the FOI Act?
The GIPA Act reflects a shift in thinking about the way government agencies provide information to the public. The fundamental principle of the GIPA Act is that access to information should be provided unless, on balance, it would be contrary to the public interest to provide that information. The GIPA Act not only applies to information that has always been in the public domain (such as annual reports) but to information produced at every operational level within a government agency (such as reports and policies).
Furthermore, where the FOI Act focused on documents, the GIPA Act uses a broad definition of ‘information’ and, as a result, applies to information that is compiled, recorded, or stored electronically as well as in hard copy form.