Request for information

Section 8 Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) details the obligations of agencies such as Council to provide access to certain information that it holds. The Act provides for Council to release information publicly on its website (called open access information); in response to an informal request for access or in response to a formal application for access.

Open access information

Council’s Publication Guide outlines the type of information that is considered open access information that you may receive free of charge. In the first instance, check Council’s website to find the information you require. If the information you require is not on the website, you are able to access that information by completing the relevant form..

Access to other information

Council also holds a lot of information that is not listed in the Publication Guide as open access information. The release of this information is generally restricted due to considerations such as commercial confidence, legal privilege, security concerns and protection of privacy. You can apply for access to this information through a Formal Access Application. This process attracts a mandatory application fee and the release of information is not guaranteed. Please read the information on our GIPA formal access webpage prior to making the decision to apply through that process. If you apply informally for this type of information, you will be contacted by one of Council’s Officers  who will explain the reasons as to why a formal application will be needed. 

Copyright restrictions 

Information held by Clarence Valley Council is subject to the Copyright Act 1968. The Copyright Act does not permit materials covered by copyright (eg documents, plans, photos etc) to be copied or published unless the owner of the copyright has given consent. The NSW Information and Privacy Commission released a knowledge update in 2019 entitled The GIPA Act and Copyright’ which sets out copyright advice to local government.    

 Make an RFI request


Acceptable requests

Informal information applications are suitable for requests for information which are not complex and can be processed quickly. Though many applications involve requests for property information, informal applications can also be used to request other information held by Council, including your personal information. Where personal information is involved, we may request you to provide proof of identity eg driver’s licence, passport, rates notice etc. Under section 67 of the GIPA Act (2009), Council cannot impose any processing charge for the first 20 hours of processing time if the application is made for your personal information.

By providing specific and detailed requests, you can assist us in quickly determining what information is available to help you.

Informal information applications are not suitable for requests which:

  • involve extensive searching, large volumes of information or would require a substantial amount of staff resources to process your request; or
  • may involve the release of another person/s personal information, thereby requiring consultation with those person/s; or:
  • may involve access to sensitive information requiring the careful balancing of public and private interests in determining disclosure.

If your request involves any of the above, consider lodging a formal access application. Formal access applications involve a lodgement fee and processing charges, whilst also having a right of review.


General information for processing requests

Upon receiving your request, Council will determine how the request will be processed and what information will be made available. This may involve us contacting you to clarify what information is sought. 

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.

Applications will be assessed in accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and any other relevant legislation. Please note the GIPA Act provides no statutory timeframe by which informal requests must be decided within.

Access to information such as internal residential diagrams is usually restricted to owners of those properties; therefore Council generally seeks consent of the owner prior to Council releasing this information.    

If Council determines that the request is unable to be processed as an informal release because it involves consideration of complex issues, significant resources or consultations with third parties, we will contact you to discuss lodging a Formal Application.


On-site Sewage Management (OSM) Approvals to operate

Important information:

  • An approval to operate does not imply the system of sewage management meets Council’s current performance standards.
  •  An approval to operate expires on the transfer or otherwise conveyance of the property in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005.

Any prospective purchaser of a property serviced by an On-Site Sewage Management System (OSM) should undertake their own due diligence to determine the state of the OSM system.

Following the transfer or otherwise conveyance of the property serviced by an On-Site Sewage Management System (OSM) Council’s Technical Officer (On-Site Wastewater) will undertake a site inspection to determine the state of the system. Any issues identified with the OSM system during this inspection will be the responsibility of the new owner.

Note: Occupation Certificates were introduced in NSW for development approvals issued after 1 July 1998 and therefore are not available prior to this date.


Swimming Pool Compliance Certificates

Any member of the public can check a swimming pool registration certificate or certificate of compliance at without needing to lodge a request for information.


Copying charges

Where documents are requested and able to be reproduced the applicant will be required to meet all costs associated with photocopying, as set out in our fees and charges schedule.