Blue Mountains City Council

Downloads




 

Access to Information

Council’s Information Guide includes an overview of Council and its functions, and a summary of how to access information. See download at right.

 

 

How do I get information from Council?

Policies, plans, Council meeting information & other publically available information: Please use the navigation column or search function on this website. Policies, plans and strategy information are found on Council's Policies, Plans Strategies webpage. Council meeting information can be accessed here.


Development Application Information: For development-related documents, please refer to our Development Applications Enquiry page, from where you can look up information on applications lodged after 1 January 2011. If you cannot find the information you need, please complete the Records Search of Development Applications form (which may be downloaded at right) and submit to Council.

 

Property owner information: Council is committed to protecting the privacy of residents, property owners and ratepayers and does not offer a service to look up information concerning the contact information of a person. You may be able to use the following various avenues to attempt to contact a person:

  • Land & Property Information, a division of the NSW Office of Finance and Services, makes copies of title certificates available for a fee. They can be contacted on 1300 052 637 or their online products can be purchased here. Please note that title certificates contain the names of property owners but do not contain alternative addresses or phone numbers.
  • Other resources that may assist you include the White Pages or an address search on an internet search engine such as Google, to identify real estate agents who may act as agents for rental properties or properties for sale.
  • If other attempts to contact a person fail, you may contact Council and ask about the possibility of Council forwarding a letter on your behalf. Please note that Council will not forward any letters contained in sealed envelopes, and copies of letters to be forwarded will be recorded in Council’s record keeping system. Only letters which are in the public interest, for example which discuss a health or safety issue, will be forwarded. Council will not get involved in the matter and holds no responsibility if the owner does not respond to the letter writer.
  • As a last resort, you may make a formal GIPA request, accompanied by a $30 fee. Any request for third party personal information will involve consultation with that third party for permission before any information can be released and Council cannot guarantee that you will be able to receive any information on a person’s contact details using this method.
    Informal applications, and applications made under the GIPA Act: Please use the Application to Access

 

Information Application Form (download at right) and see section below for further details. You can apply to access your own personal information held by Council under s14 of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (PPIPA).

 

Accessing information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW)

 
Council provides access to information and records under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act). The Act makes provision for a wide range of information to be publicly available.

 
The GIPA Act replaces the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW). NSW government agencies, including local councils are required to release information as set out in the GIPA Act. Government information means information contained in a record held by an agency. A record means any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means. The knowledge of a person is not a record.

There are four ways in which government information will be available:

  1. Mandatory release: This generally includes information found on this website, such as the Council's policy documents, current publication guide, disclosure log and register of government contracts
  2. Proactive release: These are additional documents that are made available to the public on this website.
  3. Informal release: This is for specific information. Under the GIPA Act, Council can choose to release information without the need for a formal access application. Access via this path may be subject to reasonable conditions such as photocopying charges. Please complete an Application to Access Information Form (which may be downloaded at right) and submit to Council. 
  4.  Formal access application: If you haven't been able to obtain the information you need through any other form of access you can make a formal access application. Unlike an informal request, you have a legally enforceable right to be provided with access unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information. An application fee of $30 applies and additional processing charges may be payable. Please complete an Application to Access Information Form (which may be downloaded at right) and submit to Council with the application fee.

A formal application must: ?

  • be in writing;
  • state that it is made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW);
  • have an Australian postal address for return correspondence; \
  • provide enough details to help the agency identify the information you want; and
  • enclose the application fee of $30.

If Council decides to provide you with access to the information, you may be asked to pay a further processing charge. Processing costs $30 per hour and covers time needed to deal efficiently with the application. Council will require you to pay up to 50 per cent of the expected processing charge in advance. This request will be in writing and will allow four weeks for payment. If you seek access to your own personal information, the first 20 hours of processing time are free of charge.

Applicants may be entitled to a 50% reduction of processing charges on financial hardship grounds, or if the information requested is of special benefit to the public generally. In order to apply, supporting documentation (such as a healthcare card) needs to be attached to the application. Alternatively, the scope of the search can be amended in order to reduce fees.

The steps you can expect with relation to a formal GIPA application are as follows:

  1. Council has five (5) days to determine whether you have made a valid application and to send an acknowledgement of your application. If Council decides your application is invalid it will provide you with reasonable assistance to make a valid application.
  2. Council will search its records for any relevant information that may pertain to your requested scope. If applicable, Council will then send you a cost estimate and request an advance deposit.
  3. Council may need to consult other people, businesses or government bodies in order to ascertain if the information can be released. When consultation is completed, Council will provide you with the information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure (public interest test) or the information is excluded.
  4. Applications take 20 days to process, though this may be extended in the event that Council is required to consult with third parties prior to the release of information, if your response to Council’s estimate of charges is pending . If Council does not decide your access application within 20 days, unless otherwise agreed, it is considered "refused". Your application fee will be refunded and you may seek internal or external review of this refusal.

Council can refuse your formal request if:

  • the information you have asked for is already publicly available;
  • you have not paid a deposit; 
  • your request would take an unreasonable amount of time to process; or 
  • there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

You have three options if you have been refused a formal access to information request:

  •  Internal review: You can apply to Council for an internal review. The review will be conducted by someone more senior than the original decision maker. There is a $40 fee and you have 20 working days from receiving notice of a decision to ask for an internal review.
  • Review by the Information Commissioner: If you are not satisfied with the internal review, or do not want one, you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. You have eight weeks from being notified of a decision to ask for this review.
  • Review at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT): If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Information Commissioner or the internal reviewer or if you do not want to take these options you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (NCAT). If you have already had a review by the Information Commissioner you have four weeks from notification of the decision to make this application. If you haven't had a review by the Information Commissioner you have eight weeks from notification of the decision to make this application.

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