Published on 31 March 2022
A visit from NSW Information Commissioner was warmly welcomed by Clarence Valley Council this week.
Mayor Ian Tiley, Acting General Manager Laura Black, councillors and senior management hosted NSW Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd at the Council Chambers in Grafton on Tuesday (29 March).
"It's fantastic for Commissioner Tydd to take the time to visit Clarence Valley Council and put a face on the compliance reporting that we do," Mayor Tiley said.
"She was able to highlight opportunities for improvement, trends in open access globally, and emerging funding streams aimed at assisting digital transformation."
The Information Commissioner is based in the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC), which is responsible for both information access and privacy in local government and other state government agencies.
Commissioner Tydd focused on the IPC’s role as a ‘Champion of Open Government’ detailing the operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (‘GIPA Act)’) and Council’s reporting on this.
"Local councils are at the heart of our democratic system," Commissioner Tydd said. "They represent and serve citizens and their work has never been more important to the people of the Northern Rivers.
"I welcome Clarence Valley Council's commitment to improving compliance with their obligations under the GIPA Act and I appreciate that Mayor Ian Tiley and councillors together with the executive and management levels of Council were open to engaging with the IPC and committed to improved compliance.
"I am impressed by the proactive approach to compliance taken by the Council following the recent local government elections.
"I am confident that over time we will see improved outcomes for the citizens of Clarence Valley and more robust information governance practices by Council."
Commissioner Tydd highlighted a range of self-reporting tools available to Council that compare its performance to other local governments across the state; information graphics that Council can use to assist in the understanding of open access legislation; and new funding opportunities under the Digital Restart Act 2020.
"The Commissioner walked councillors and senior staff through our GIPA Dashboard and advised that in 2020/21 we performed well above average in terms of meeting the expectations in our release of information (96%)," Ms Black said.
"But our timeliness in delivering outcomes (73%) was impacted by the absence of a responsible officer for a number of months due to a delay in recruitment."