Access to information
What is the Government Information (Public Access) Act?
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) came into force on 1 July 2010. It replaces the Freedom of Information Act 1989. The object of the GIPA Act is to open government information to the public by:
- authorising and encouraging the proactive public release of government information by agencies, and
- giving members of the public an enforceable right to access government information, and
- providing that access to government information is restricted only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
The GIPA Act requires government agencies to make certain information easily available to the public without requiring an application. This is known as open access information, and includes:
- information about who we are, what we do and the information we hold (our agency information guide)
- information about our office tabled in Parliament
- our policy documents
- a log of all of the information released in response to applications (our disclosure log), and
- a register of certain government contracts.
We are also required to provide an explanation if we do not make any of the information listed above available publicly.
What information is available from the Ombudsman?
Government agencies are required to make their open access information easily available without members of the public having to ask for it. This requirement for proactive release is one of the major reforms of the GIPA Act.
Our agency information guide provides information about who we are, what we do, and the information we make publicly available.
If you are seeking information about our office, and it is not listed in our publication guide or on our website, the first step is to call or email us. Ask to speak with one of our Right to Information Officers, and they will advise you whether the information you want can be provided with or without an application under the GIPA Act.
If we cannot provide the information you want informally, you will be advised to make a formal application under the GIPA Act. The link below is to access guidance material, prepared by the Information Commissioner.
What information is not available from the Ombudsman?
Our office handles a great deal of sensitive information. For this reason, the Ombudsman Act contains detailed secrecy provisions.
This is why our office was included in Schedule 2 of the GIPA Act, which provides that information relating to our investigative, complaint handling and reporting functions are exempt from the operation of the GIPA Act and is considered excluded information.
Any application requesting access to such excluded information is an ‘invalid’ application under the GIPA Act. All invalid applications are refused.
If you have provided us with information and would like to be provided with a copy of this information, we will, within reason, provide this informally.