right to information (formerly FOI)

young girl at a computer

On 1 July 2010, the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) replaced the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1989.

The new Act allows you to ask for information held by Community Services and to request a review of the decisions we make about your application for access to information.

how can I get access to information held by Community Services?

You can search for policy documents through our publication guide, disclosure log and register of government contracts.

Requests for information can be made either informally or formally, depending on the nature of the information.

If you were in out-of-home care or were a ward of the state, you can request access to records about your time in care. You do not have to apply under the GIPA Act.

See more about care leavers.

If you want to access information about an adoption, you will need to apply to the Adoption Information Unit. Find out more about a past adoption.

how can I make an informal request for information?

Community Services routinely releases a range of information without needing a formal application.

The following types of documents may be released informally:

  • risk of harm reports (released to the person making the report)
  • supervised access reports
  • placement reports – participants only
  • authorised carer assessments
  • meeting minutes to attendees
  • casework practice and other policy documents
  • staff requests e.g. disciplinary reports
  • existing statistical information

There is no charge for this information, but applicants do not have any rights of review and appeal.

Request for documents that contain your personal information must be made in writing and you will need to supply proof of identity.

Use the application form or call the Right to Information Unit on 02 9716 2662 for advice.

how can I make a formal application for information?

If the information you are seeking is not available on this website and is not otherwise routinely provided by Community Services, then you have a right to apply formally for access.

You can use the application form or write a letter saying that your request is a formal application under the GIPA Act.

In your letter or application:

  • please provide as much information as possible about the information you want to see
  • state a postal address in Australia
  • if you are requesting access to documents containing personal information about yourself or your child, provide proof of your identity, e.g. a photocopy of your driver’s license, birth certificate, health care card, etc.
  • enclose the application fee (see costs below)

Either post your application to the address below or deliver it to any Community Services office.

Right to Information Unit
Community Services
4-6 Cavill Ave
Ashfield NSW 2131

Locked Bag 4028
Ashfield NSW 2131

ph: 02 9716 2662
fax: 02 9716 3400

having your personal information changed

You can ask us to amend or make additions to personal information held in Community Services records using the form to request amendments to personal records.

Post to the address above.

how long will it take?

Community Services has 20 working days to complete access applications. This period may be extended if we have to consult with other people or if documents have to be retrieved from the NSW Government Records Repository.

how much will it cost?

 

Access to personal information

Access to non-personal information

Review of decision

Application
fee

$30 regular rate     (includes 20 hours of processing time)

$30 regular rate

$40 regular rate

$15 concession for: 

  • pensioners, holders of Health Care cards or in financial hardship
  • full-time students
  • non-profit organisations
  • information whose release is of special benefit to the public generally

(includes 20 hours of processing time)

$15 concession for: 

  • pensioners, holders of Health Care cards or in financial hardship
  • full-time students
  • non-profit organisations
  • information whose release is of special benefit to the public generally

$20 concession for: 

  • pensioners, holders of Health Care cards or in financial hardship
  • full-time students
  • non-profit organisations
  • information whose release is of special benefit to the public generally

Processing charge
(per hour)

$30 per hour

$30 per hour

Nil

$15 concession for: 

  • pensioners, holders of Health Care cards or in financial hardship
  • full-time students
  • non-profit organisations
  • information whose release is of special benefit to the public generally

$15 concession for: 

  • pensioners, holders of Health Care cards or in financial hardship
  • full-time students
  • non-profit organisations
  • information whose release is of special benefit to the public generally

Nil

* there is a 50 per cent fee reduction for: full time students, holders of Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Cards and non-profit organisations.

We may ask you to make an advance deposit of a processing charge.

non-English speaking applicants

Community Services will accept applications for government information written in a language other than English. The  information requested will be provided in its original format. It is your responsibility to have such information translated, at your own expense, if needed.

If you are viewing documents at a Community Services office, you may invite a third person to act as interpreter.

how to apply for a review of our decision

If you are unhappy with the records we give you, you can ask for a review of our decision.

See more about applying for a review of a RTI decision, or download a form to request a review of a decision.

care leavers or former wards

If you were formerly in out-of-home care or a ward of the state you have the right to access records about your time in care.

Files may be viewed at a Community Services Centre under the supervision of a Community Services officer.

This is a free service and the office will provide support and explain the information on the file.

As a care leaver, you can obtain a copy of documents relating to you, as well as original personal documents such as birth certificates, baptismal certificates, school and medical records and correspondence addressed to you.

If you are a care leaver who now lives interstate, you will need to lodge a written request to the Records Access Branch. This information will be provided to you free of charge.

Also see are you a former ward?

For more information on your rights under the new system see the Office of the Information Commissioner website.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)