Access to information and documents

There are now three ways you can access council information: Open Access Information, Request for Information (informal)  and Formal Access (GIPA Formal Access Request Form).  

Information Guide

The Information Guide is a mandatory document prescribed in the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 - GIPA. It describes the structure and functions of Council, the various kinds of information we hold and how the public can access the information.

Introduction

The Information Guide is a mandatory document prescribed in the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 – GIPA. It describes the structure and functions of Council, the various kinds of information Council holds and how the public can access the information.

 

Clarence Valley Council

Clarence Valley Council was created by proclamation on 25 February 2004. It is an amalgamation of the former Councils of Copmanhurst, Pristine Waters, Maclean and Grafton City together with Clarence River County Council and Lower Clarence County Council (North Coast Water).

 

Council values

Our vision

To make the Clarence Valley a community full of opportunity

Our mission

To plan and deliver services valued by the community

Our values

STRIVE

The following values and behaviours are considered to be core requirements when we deal with each other and our community

S

T

R

I

V

E

Safe
We will have a safety focused workplace culture to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and the community
Teamwork
We will work together as one council towards shared goals and for the greater good of the community
Respect
We will be inclusive, treat people with courtesy and fairness, and ensure each individual is valued and heard
Integrity
We will behave in a way that is honest, open, and transparent. We will take responsibility for our actions and strive for excellence
Value
We will deliver services efficiently, effectively and in an environmentally and financially sustainable manner.
Engagement
We will engage with our staff and community to inform our decision making, and create awareness of our activities

 

Access to information held by Council

We're committed to the principle of open and transparent government.

Under the provisions of the GIPA Act  there is a right of access to certain information held by Council, unless there is an overriding public interest against its disclosure.

We hold information in various formats in respect of a wide range of functions undertaken by it and information, which is pertinent to different issues relating to the Clarence Valley local government area.

Council has an electronic file system, which has been in place since 2006.

The main physical files held by Council include general subject files, development and building files, property files as well as street and park files, relating to Clarence Valley Council and the pre amalgamated councils.

There are 4 main ways we provide access to information:

  1. Mandatory Proactive Release
  2. Proactive Release  
  3. Informal Release  
  4. Formal Access Application

Any applications made under the GIPA Act will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the Act.

Open access documents

These documents contain open access information. They are listed below, divided into 4 sections as outlined by GIPA regulations:

  • Information about Council;
  • Plans and policies;
  • Information about Development Applications;
  • Approvals, orders and other documents.

The regulation requires that these documents be made publicly available on Council’s website and for inspection at Council’s office and for copying (subject to Council’s photocopying fee) unless putting the information on the web would involve an unreasonable cost or be contrary to either the public interest or the Information Commissioner’s guidelines.

As resources permit, open access information will be placed on the website. Schedule 2 lists those documents that are available on Council's website and those that are not.  

The following documents are defined as “Open Access Information” under  Section 18 of the GIPA Act and will be released or provided for viewing, without the need for a formal access application:

Accessing information and documents held by Clarence Valley Council

 Mandatory Release of Open Access Information

Most Open Access information is available on our website.  

We recognise that not all Open Access information is available on our website at this point in time. If the Open Access information you are seeking is not available on our web site, you can request it via email.   

Open Access information is also available for viewing at our Customer Service Centres in Grafton and Maclean.

Access to Open Access information is free of charge.

Proactive Release of Open Access information

In addition to open access information, Council will make as much other information as possible publicly available, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Such information may include information frequently requested or information of public interest that has been released as a result of other requests.

Informal Release of information

Access to information which is not available as Mandatory Public Release (open access) or Proactive Release may be provided through Informal Release.  Council generally releases other information in response to an informal request subject to any reasonable conditions as Council thinks fit to impose.

As per proactive release methods, Council is authorised to release information unless there is a public interest against disclosure. To enable the release of as much information as possible, Council is also authorised to redact content from a copy of information to be released, if the inclusion of the redacted information would otherwise result in an overriding public interest against disclosure.

If you require access to information that is not Open Access information, you should complete the form available online - click here - and lodge it with Council. 

When making a Request for Information application, you should be aware that:

  • we will endeavour to make this information available to you within 10 working days, and
  • We may refuse to make this information available to you, if there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Under informal release, Council reserves the right to determine by what means the information will be released.

Formal Application

Prior to lodging a formal access application, a person seeking information from Council should check if the information being sought is already available on Council’s website or could easily be made available through an informal request application.

If information:

  • Is not available via Proactive or Informal Release; or
  • Involves a large volume of information, requires extensive research and accordingly will involve an unreasonable amount of time and resources to produce; or
  • Contains personal or confidential information about a third party which may require consultation; or
  • Is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of the consideration in favour of and against disclosure; then

Council requires a Formal Access to Information Application to be submitted.

Application for Formal Access are to be made by completing the Formal Access application form available online click here. Completed forms should be submitted to Council accompanied by the GIPA prescribed application fee of $30.00.

Additional $30.00 hourly processing charges may be applicable.

Please note, an application will be invalid if it seeks access to excluded information of Council or does not meet the requirements for a Formal Access application.

An application must:

  • Be in writing
  • Specify it is made under the GIPA Act
  • State an Australian Postal address;
  • Be accompanied by the $30.00 fee;

Provide sufficient detail to enable Council to identify the information requested.

Council has 20 working days (30 if consultation is required with third parties) in which to make a decision about your application.

A formal application gives you rights of appeal to both the NSW Information & Privacy Commission and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Copyright laws

Nothing in the regulations requires or permits Council to make open access information available in any way that would constitute an infringement of copyright (Section 6.6 GIPA Act). Access to copyright documents will be granted by way of inspection only, unless the copyright owner’s written consent is provided. Where authority is unable to be obtained or the copyright owner is not able to be contacted, copies of copyright material will not be provided. These documents include Plans/Drawings, consultant reports, Statements of Environmental Effects and other miscellaneous reports submitted with a DA (please note that this list is not definitive).

 

Right to information officer

Enquiries concerning access to information in the possession of Council should be directed to Council’s Public Officer:

Public Officer
Clarence Valley Council
Mail:                Locked Bag 23 GRAFTON NSW 2460 
Telephone:      02 6643 0200  
Fax:                 02 6642 7647
Email:              council@clarence.nsw.gov.au

Where can I find information about my right to information?

 You can find out more about your right to access government information by contacting the NSW Information & Privacy Commission:

  • Go to               www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
  • Email               ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au
  • Mail                 GPO Box 7011, Sydney NSW 2001
  • Visit                 Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
  • Call                  1800 472 679 from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)