Access to government information

Obtaining information under GIPA

What is the GIPA Act?

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) gives you the right to access government information you ask for, unless there is an overriding public interest against release.

What is government information?

Government information is any record held by an agency, a private sector entity or the State Records Authority to which the agency has an immediate right of access, or a record that is in the possession or under the control of a person in his or her capacity as an officer of the 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.

How is information made available?

There are four ways in which information is made available under the GIPA Act.

1. Mandatory disclosure

Open Access Information’ must be disclosed free of charge and is available on this website:

This includes information about SLM, policy documents , a disclosure log, information tabled in parliament and a register of register of government contracts valued at $150,000 or more. 

2. Proactive release

We will proactively release as much information as possible. Sometimes this may not be possible, for instance, if the information concerns another party's affairs. You can ask what further information we will make available, in addition to the information already publicly accessible. Contact the SLM office you think is likely to hold the information.

3. Informal release

You can ask for specific information (including your personal information) on an informal basis. Contact the SLM office you think is likely to hold the information.

We will give you a decision as quickly as possible. If we can't provide a final decision within 20 working days, we will let you know when you can expect one.

There is no right of review if you are not happy with an informal decision. If you make a formal application for the information, you will then have review rights.

4. Formal release

This is a last resort. You should first see what information is publicly available or will be made available. However, there may be public interest reasons why the information may not be released informally, or a third party will need to be consulted in relation to the release of their business or personal information, in which case a formal application should be lodged. 

Personal information

You can ask for your personal information under the GIPA Act which defines personal information as information or opinion about a person who can be identified from that information or opinion. We will try to comply with your request for your personal information without the need for a formal application, but you need to prove your identity. Sometimes we may have to ask you to put in a formal application.

You can also ask for and amend your personal information under the privacy legislation. Refer to the privacy page for further details.

How do I apply formally for information under the GIPA Act?

  1. Consider what personal or non-personal information you would like.
  2. Submit an application using the Access Application Form which must:
    • State that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act
    • Give a postal address so we can write to you
    • Provide a detailed description about the information you want and is as specific as possible. Include information you think should be taken into account when a decision is made on the application, such as the reasons you are asking for the information or why you feel it should be released. This will help to keep the cost of your application down and help us to identify the information you are seeking.
    • State which agency you are seeking information from – that is, it must be information that is under SLM’s custody and control for the application to be processed
  3. Enclose the $30 application fee with your application form - payment and lodgement details are given on the application form. Payment should be made to Historic Houses Trust for all applications. The application fee covers the first hour of processing time or the first two hours if a 50% reduction of charges has been granted.

How will my formal access application be processed?

We will advise you within five working days of receiving your application if it is valid under the GIPA Act. If it is not valid, we will tell you why and help you to make it valid.

We will then process your application by searching for the information or let you know if it is more appropriate for your application to be dealt with by another agency.

In processing your application, we may have to consult other people, businesses or government agencies on the release of information that relates to them. The application will result in one of the following decisions:

  • To provide access;
  • That the information is not held
  • That the information is already available to you
  • To refuse to provide access because there is an overriding public interest against disclosure
  • To refuse to deal with your application
  • To refuse to confirm or deny that the information is held, because there is an overriding public interest against disclosure confirming or denying that fact.

We will provide you with reasons for making any of the above decisions. If we decide to defer access, we will give you reasons for deferral and when you will be given access.

When will my application be decided?

We will try to deal with your request as soon as possible and within 20 working days of receiving your application. If we need to consult a third party or we need to retrieve archived records, the 20-day period will be extended by 10-15 days. 

We may not always be able to meet these timeframes, for example, if there is a large amount of information or many people to consult. We will let you know if this is the case and negotiate a longer timeframe with you. If your request will involve an unreasonable amount of processing work and time, we will ask you to revise your request. The time to revise the request will not be counted in calculating the deadline.

If we do not decide your access application within the deadline, it is deemed to be refused. We will continue to process your application, but your application fee will be refunded and you may seek a review of this deemed refusal. This will not apply if an extension of time has been arranged or payment of an advance deposit is pending. You will be advised of any changes to the timeframe in writing.

What fees and charges will I have to pay?

In addition to the $30 application fee, we may charge $30 per hour after the first hour to search for the information; consult third parties and make a decision about access (unless you have asked for your personal information, in which case the first 20 processing hours are free). SLM may decide to waive, reduce or refund the fees and charges in special circumstances at our discretion.

We may ask for an advance deposit to cover the estimated processing charges. You will be given four weeks to pay the deposit. The time allowed to finalise your application does not include the time waiting for an advance deposit to be paid. Any deposit paid will be refunded if we do not decide your application in time.

You can ask to be given access to photocopies of the information or for it to be provided electronically on CD or by email.

Will information not be made available under a formal decision?

We try to make information available wherever possible. However, you may not be able to obtain information if there is an overriding public interest against disclosure. This can apply to information such as:

  • Cabinet information
  • confidential information
  • information that would breach another person's privacy
  • information that would prejudice someone's business, commercial, professional or financial interests
  • information that would affect law enforcement and security
  • information relating to sensitive threatened species and Aboriginal cultural heritage issues.

We can only refuse access to information if the public interests against disclosure outweigh the general public interests in favour of disclosure. There is no limit to the matters we can take into account in favour of releasing information. We will let you know the reasons if we decide not to release information.

On what other grounds could my formal application be refused?

We can also refuse an application if:

  • your request would take an unreasonable and substantial amount of time and resources to process - we will help you refine your application so that we can process it 
  • you do not pay a deposit that we may ask for 
  • the information you ask for is already publicly available
  • we have already decided a previous application from you for the information (or information that is substantially the same) and there are no reasonable grounds for believing that we would make a different decision
  • the information is or has been the subject of a subpoena or other court order for the production of documents and is available to you because we have complied with that subpoena or court order
  • we do not hold the information.

What if I don't agree with a decision?

You can have the following decisions reviewed by us, the NSW Information Commissioner  and/or the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

You can ask for a decision to be reviewed if you are the access applicant or if a decision has been made to give an applicant access to information that relates to your business, commercial, professional, financial, or personal interests contrary to your objections.

What is an internal review?

An internal review is conducted by someone who is more senior than the person who made the decision and who was not involved in the original decision. The reviewer will make a new decision as if the original decision had never been made.

You can apply for an internal review within 20 working days of a decision (or, if we don't decide your application in time, within 20 working days of the date it should have been decided which is the date of deemed refusal). To apply, complete the Internal Review Application Form and put forward your reasons why the decision should be changed. Payment of a $40 application fee must be made when lodging the application for review of a decision.

You do not need to pay an internal review application fee if we did not decide your application on time. No other charges are involved. The internal review application fee may be refunded if the review decision is significantly different from the original decision.

The internal review will be decided within 15 working days of receiving the application for an internal review. This may be extended by up to 10 working days if we need to consult another person whom we did not previously consult, or by agreement with you.

What is a review by the Information Commissioner?

If you formally applied for information and don't agree with the internal review decision or do not want one, you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. You will have 40 working days to ask for this review.

Other people who are affected by a decision they are not happy with must first apply for an internal review before applying to the Information Commissioner. This includes third parties consulted as part of processing and making a decision in respect of an access application.

There is no cost involved in seeking a review by the Information Commissioner and no time limit imposed on the Information Commissioner for completing a review.

The Information Commissioner can make recommendations to us about the decision, including that we reconsider the decision and make a new one (even if an internal review decision has been made).

What is a review by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal?

If you don't agree with the Information Commissioner's or the internal reviewer's decisions or you do not want any of these reviews, you can apply to the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review.

Will other people have access to the information released to me?

If you receive information after making a formal application and we think other people will be interested in it, we will record it on our disclosure log which describes the information that was provided, the date the application was decided, and how other members of the public can access it.

If you are the access applicant or you have been consulted or should have been consulted on the release of information, you can object to information being included in the disclosure log if it includes personal information about you or about a deceased person that you represent or if the information concerns your business, commercial, professional, or financial interests or research.

How can I complain about my dealings with SLM in relation to the GIPA Act?

Complaints about SLM can be made to the Information Commissioner.

How can I get more information?



Access Application Form

Download access application form (PDF, 246KB)


Internal Review Application Form

Download internal review application form (PDF, 238KB)


Disclosure Log

Information previously released by Sydney Living Museums

Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act), SLM is required to keep a record (a disclosure log) of information about formal applications it receives under the GIPA Act.

The disclosure log sets out information that is released under the GIPA Act that may be of interest to members of the public. The log has details of how you can access the information.

Agency Reference no. Date the application was decided Description of the information provided and the type of release (full or partial) Form of access Type of release
F2015/254 6-Mar-15 Information relating to the number of commercial events held at Vaucluse House in 2013 & 2014 Information can be provided upon request to: Full disclosure
F2015/255 20-Mar-15 Information relating to a contract to provide commercial services at Vaucluse House and Vaucluse House Tearooms Information can be provided upon request to: Partial disclosure
F2015/256 23-Mar-15 Information relating to the development of a Plan of Management for Vaucluse House Information can be provided upon request to: Partial disclosure

Information Tabled in Parliament

The Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA Act) requires that Sydney Living Museums make publicly available any information about Sydney Living Museums that has been tabled in Parliament. This includes documents tabled by, or on behalf of, Sydney Living Museums.

Information about Sydney Living Museums tabled in Parliament can be accessed at this site.

Since the commencement of the GIPA Act, with the exception of the Annual Reports which are available on our website, no information relating to Sydney Living Museums has been tabled in Parliament.