Public access to records

Public access to records under the State Records Act 1998

Public access to the records of Government is a fundamental right in a democratic society. The State Records Act 1998 promotes the principles of accountability and access by providing for the creation, management and protection of State records and for public access to those records. The access Provisions of the Act establish a 30 year open to public access period and provide for authorising longer periods of protection for sensitive records through the making of access directions.

Attorney General's Guidelines for making Access Directions

These guidelines are issued by the Attorney General in accordance with section 52(3) of the State Records Act 1998 . The purpose of the guidelines is to assist public offices in meeting their responsibility to make access directions under the Act. All public offices should refer to these guidelines when deciding whether to open or close records to public access (this includes deciding whether records at least 30 years old should be open or closed to public access, and considering whether earlier public access to records less than 30 years old may be authorised).

Making Access Directions Procedures

These procedures set out how to make access directions for State records. They are designed to assist individual officers who have responsibility for making access directions. They should be used in conjunction with the Attorney General's Guidelines on Making Access Directions under the State Records Act 1998.


Make an access direction using a Notification of an access direction form

or Notification of an Early Access Authorisation form

Recordkeeping requirements and the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

Creating and capturing records to document activities facilitating the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, including the processing of formal applications, handling of informal requests, conducting of internal reviews and the release of information, enables your organisation to demonstrate that the process was undertaken transparently and accountably.

Records provide an audit trail that can support organisational decision-making and provide transparency. As a number of decisions are reviewable under the GIPA Act, the organisation should build requirements for records creation into procedures for GIPA activities and make sure that all staff are aware and familiar with the requirements.

Public access to information under other NSW legislation

In addition to the State Records Act the Government information (Public Access) Act 2009 also provides a public entitlement to information. The Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 also regulate public access to particular types of information.