Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act) and who does it apply to?
The GIPA Act replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) on 1 July 2010. The law applies to NSW public sector agencies, which includes the University of Sydney.

The GIPA Act facilitates access to information by:

  • making it necessary for the University to make certain information publicly available
  • authorising the University to proactively release other information to the community
  • authorising the University to release their information in response to informal access requests; and
  • giving the public a legally enforceable right to access government information through making an access application, unless there is an overriding public interest against doing so.

What information is covered by the GIPA Act?
Information in a record held by the University, or on behalf of the University is covered. A record means any document or source of information that is compiled, recorded or stored in printed or electronic form. This means an information created or received by a staff member of the University is subject to GIPA.

Who are Right to Information Officers (RIOs)?
These are University staff who have been given specific authority and responsibility to meet some of the University’s day-to-day obligations under the GIPA Act. This includes dealing with queries about how the GIPA Act operates at the University and formal applications under the GIPA Act. But they do not make decisions about whether to release documents under the GIPA Act.

Who decides to release information under the GIPA Act?
The Vice-Chancellor has designated the Group Secretary and the Secretary to Senate under the GIPA Act to decide applications, giving them authority to decide to release or to refuse to release documents under the GIPA Act.

I'm a staff member at the University - what should I know about GIPA?
You may want to make an application under GIPA - see here for more details. You should also know what information you can get without a GIPA application, see here for more details.

You may also be contacted by a Right to Information Officer (RIO) when the University receives a GIPA application. Once an application is received, a RIO will make enquiries within the University to locate relevant documents. Staff may be asked by an RIO to locate relevant information and provide copies to the RIO.

If you have not previously had any experience of this process, you may be unaccustomed to requests to produce documents in this way, particularly if you think the documents are confidential, such as your work emails or other work material.

Please remember that the GIPA process is one that the University is required by law to go through. Staff members are obliged to provide documents to the RIO when requested and in the time frame specified in the request.

Providing copies of documents to the RIO does not mean they will automatically be released. If you provide documents to an RIO then you can also use the opportunity to draw attention to any considerations for or against disclosure which you think should be taken into account when the documents are examined