The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (the GIPA Act) enables members of the public to apply to access government information held by UTS. The Act defines 'government information' as 'information contained in a record held by an agency'. This excludes information that was unsolicited and not relevant to the university’s business or functions.
How to access information
- When seeking access to UTS government information, you should first check to see if the information is already publicly available.
- If the information is not listed as available, the next step is to find out whether the information can be accessed through existing administrative processes.
- If the information can't be obtained through existing administrative processes, the next step is to contact UTS and consult with the Right to Information Contact Officer for advice about informal requests and formal access applications.
- Applying formally through an access application should be used as a last resort, where the information is not available in any other way.
Accessing information through existing processes
Personal or health information
You are entitled to access your own personal or health information. An access application under the GIPA Act is not usually required.
To find out about accessing your personal or health information, see Privacy at UTS: accessing your information.
NSW state archives
UTS holds state archives and other records of continuing value to the University.
Members of the public are entitled to make arrangements with UTS to access many records held in the University's archives. For records classed as open to public access, an access application under the GIPA Act is not required.
To find out about accessing archives, see UTS Archives.
Applying for access under the GIPA Act
Consult the UTS Right to Information Contact Officer
UTS encourages prospective applicants to consult the UTS Right to Information Contact Officer before lodging access applications. The Right to Information Contact Officer will:
- assist you to identify any alternative administrative options that may be available to access information
- help you clarify the detail of your access application before it is lodged.
Some limits to access
Access is limited to information held by UTS at the time an access application is received.
Some types of information are exempt from applications under the GIPA Act, including:
- information that is publicly available: an access application is not required to access publicly available information.
- information previously requested and decided under GIPA or its predecessor legislation
- information referred to under schedule 2 of the GIPA Act
- information that is or may be available through subpoena or court processes.
An application may also be refused if it is considered that processing it would be an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the university’s resources. Before an application is refused on those grounds, the university will provide an opportunity to amend the application.
Access application requirements
A valid access application must:
- be in writing and lodged with UTS
- indicate it is an application under the GIPA Act
- nominate a postal or email address where correspondence relating to the application should be sent
- include enough information to enable UTS to identify what is being requested, and
- include the $30 application fee.
An access application is invalid if it does not meet the requirements above.
If you have made a request to another agency for substantially the same information at any time, you are also required to identify the agency(s) in question in your application to UTS.
Lodging access applications
You can lodge an access application in person or by letter or email, as long as the application meets the requirements listed above.
Access applications lodged by email will not be considered valid until the required application fee is also received. Refer to application fees and charges below for further requirements when paying by credit card.
UTS has developed the access application lodgement form (PDF, 134kB) to assist you to prepare and lodge an access application. (Use of this form is optional.)
Providing evidence as part of your application
You will be required to provide evidence where you are requesting:
- access to your own personal information (proof of your identity is required)
- a fee reduction on personal grounds (supporting evidence is required)
- that your personal circumstances be taken into account in making the decision to release information (supporting evidence of your circumstances is required).
Application fees and charges
An application fee of $30 is required before an access application can be accepted as valid.
Paying the application fee
The application fee can be paid by cheque or Australian Money Order and should be made out to 'University of Technology Sydney'.
For applications being made in person or by post, options for payment by credit card are available on the access application lodgement form (PDF, 134kB). In cases where an access application will be sent by email, you should contact the Right to Information Contact Officer by phone to organise payment of the application fee. Credit card details should not be sent by email.
Additional processing charges may apply
An additional processing charge may be imposed to cover the time taken to process an application, based on the expected time required to process the volume of information and/or the complexity of the application.
If you are requesting your own information, the first 20 hours of processing time is not calculated when considering processing charges.
If processing charges are applied, you will be contacted as soon as possible and informed of any additional processing charge and advance deposits that may be required. At this point, you may choose to pay the advanced deposit or amend or withdraw your application.
Alternatively, you have the right to appeal a decision to impose an additional processing charge.
Discounts and refunds
A 50 per cent discount of the application fee and any processing charges may be considered where:
- you can provide sufficient evidence of financial hardship, or
- UTS is satisfied the information applied for is of special benefit to the public generally.
A full refund of the application fee will only be considered where an access application is invalid and has not been amended to make it a valid application.
Including application details in the disclosure log
UTS will include information in the disclosure log when it is of benefit to members of the public.
Access application details are recorded in the disclosure log after an access application has been decided.
Details of applications will not be recorded in the disclosure log where:
- the information requested is personal information
- personal circumstances are taken into account in making the decision to release information.
Notification of inclusion
You will be notified about possible inclusion in the disclosure log when your application is being processed by UTS.
Any consulted party will also be informed about the possible inclusion of information in the disclosure log.
Objecting to inclusion
Objections to information being included in the disclosure log may only be made by applicants or consulted parties.
An objection can be made where the information:
- is your personal information, or the personal information of the person you are representing
- concerns your business, commercial, professional or financial interests
- concerns research or the compilation or analysis of statistics that has been, is being, or will be carried out by you or on your behalf
- concerns the affairs of the Commonwealth or a state government where the applicant is that government.
If you wish to object, you must notify UTS, in writing, before the access application is decided, indicating the reason for your objection.
To discuss objecting to inclusion, contact the Right to Information Contact Officer.
UTS decision to include information after an objection
Where UTS decides to include information and access application details in the disclosure log and a valid objection was been received, the inclusion of information will be deferred until all appeal timeframes or related decisions have been satisfied.
Amending or withdrawing an application
You can amend or withdraw your access application at any time before a decision on the application is finalised.
If you wish to amend your application by reducing its scope, you should notify the Right to Information Contact Officer as soon as possible. UTS consent is not required to reduce the scope of an application. However, if processing charges have been applied, any costs associated with work already completed will continue to apply.
If you wish to make any other amendments to your application, you should consult the Right to Information Contact Officer, and UTS must agree to your requested amendments. The agreement should cover circumstances where the proposed amendments require additional work and include agreement on extensions to time to accommodate the additional work.
Withdrawing an application
If you wish to withdraw your application, you should inform the Right to Information Contact Officer as soon as possible.
Refunds for amended or withdrawn applications
Where an application is amended or withdrawn, UTS will determine if a refund of any fees and charges is appropriate.
Decisions on refunds will depend on the amount of work UTS has already completed in handling the application at the time the application is amended or withdrawn.
Handling access applications
Acknowledging an access application
An access application will be acknowledged in writing within five working days of receipt.
If your application is invalid, UTS will inform you and provide details of how you may amend your application.
If an application is valid, the application will be processed within 20 working days from the date it was received.
The processing timeframe may be extended if consultation is required, if records need to be retrieved from archives, or by mutual agreement with the applicant.
This timeframe may also be extended where an advance deposit is requested to cater for the time taken for payment to be received.
Making a decision on an access application
Making a decision
The Right to Information Coordinator will determine whether to release or withhold information, based on:
- consideration of the information concerned
- the public interest principles under section 12, section 14, schedule 1 and schedule 2 of the GIPA Act
- any relevant personal factors of the applicant, or
- any relevant responses received from consulted third parties.
In general, there is a presumption in favour of disclosure of information in the public interest. However, some or all information may be withheld if it is considered to be against the public interest to disclose.
Communicating a decision
The notice of decision in response to an access application will identify the information relevant to the application and whether or not it will be released.
Where information is to be released, the notice will either include the information or inform the applicant how to access the information (see providing access to information).
Where information is not to be released an explanation will be included.
Appealing a decision
You can appeal several decisions in relation to your access application, including a decision not to release information.
Providing access to information
Copies of information released under an access application will usually be sent to the applicant at the address nominated on their application with the formal notice of decision.
Objections by a consulted parties
If any consulted party objects to the release of any particular piece of information, access will be deferred until the party concerned has had the right to appeal the decision to release the information. In such cases, an access applicant will be informed of the proposed extended release date pending the outcome of any appeal.
Means of access
You can receive released information in the following ways:
- inspecting the records containing the information
- receiving a copy of the record containing the information
- receiving a written transcript of information, in the case of information recorded in audio, shorthand or any other encoded format.
UTS will consider which of these methods is appropriate on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature and amount of information released and the preferred method of access requested by the applicant.
If the means of access to information is not provided as requested, you can appeal.
Opting to collect released information in person
You can choose to collect released information in person rather than receive it by mail. (This option would suit circumstances where you are requesting your own personal information.)
This preference should be specified before the access application has been determined.