Freedom of Information
What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?
The Freedom of Information Act 1991 gives you a legally enforceable right of access to documents within South Australian State and Local Government’s possession. The purpose of Freedom of Information (FOI) is to make the business of Government open and accountable to all.
FOI allows you to:
- Access (as much as possible) documents within the Council's possession (subject to certain restrictions)
- Amend documents that relate to you which are incomplete, incorrect, out-of-date or misleading
What kind of documents can I access?
FOI enables you to apply to have access to any document within the council’s possession. This includes paper based documents as well as other types of documents including: computer files, plans, photographs, videos and audio tapes.
The annual information statement lists the types of documents held by the Council.
Annual Information Statement 2016
Freedom of Information - Town of Gawler - Information Statement 2016(361 kb)
Many of Council’s documents such as minutes and agendas for council and council committees, annual reports, budget statements, voters rolls etc are already publicly available. It is not necessary to lodge an FOI application to gain access to these. You can view them by contacting or visiting the Council.
Are there any documents that are not available?
While FOI aims to provide access to the maximum amount of information possible, a number of exemptions are necessary to ensure that other people’s privacy is not unduly invaded or the proper administration of the Council is not unduly affected.
The types of documents that are exempt include:
- Policy documents before 1 January 1987
- Documents subject to legal professional privilege
- Documents that contain trade secrets or information of commercial value
- Documents affecting law enforcement and public safety
- Documents that would lead to an unreasonable disclosure of another person's affairs.
How do I make an FOI application?
You can discuss your FOI application with the council’s FOI Officers prior to lodging a request. We can provide you with an application form by asking at the Council offices or you may download the application “FOI Request for Access form” from State Records Website via the link below:
If you do not wish to use an application form you can make an FOI request by ensure it:
- is in writing
- specifies that you are making an application under the Freedom of Information Act 1999
- has your name and address
- specifies the documents you would like access to or what matter they concern
- specifies whether the documents contain information about your personal affairs
- requests the form of access to the document (do you wish to view or obtain a copy?)
- includes the appropriate application fee (please do not send cash through the mail)
- specifies whether you are financially disadvantaged (please provide a copy of supporting documentation)
- is sent directly to the Council if you believe we hold the information.
Can I correct inaccurate documents about me?
Under FOI you may apply to the council to have documents corrected if they are incomplete, incorrect, misleading or out-of-date. We can provide you with an application form by asking at the council offices or you can download the application “FOI Request for Amendment From” on State Records Website link (as listed above).
How long will it take to process my application?
Once the Council has received your written application we have 30 days in which to respond.
We must notify you within 20 days if we require an extension of the 30 day timeframe and give reasons for the extension.
Will I have to pay?
An FOI application must be accompanied by the appropriate application fee.
Additional charges may be levied to process your request.
If you are financially disadvantaged all fees will be waived. Proof of this will be required to be sighted at the time you lodge your FOI application.
Please follow the link below for applicable fees and charges.
“Freedom of information (Fees and Charges) Regulations 2003” are listed via State Records Website link (see above).
What happens if I'm dissatisfied?
If a document is exempt from disclosure the Council may decide to deny you access to all or part of that document. We will tell you why access has been refused and inform you of your appeal rights in that regard.
A first step is to consider lodging an Application for Internal Review. Please follow the link below for an application form.
An Internal Review of an application “Your Rights to Review and Appeal” form is available on State Records website link.
Who can help me with my FOI application?
All FOI applications must be lodged directly with the Council which holds the documents you require access to.
Please contact Council’s FOI Officer before submitting your application if you need help clarifying which documents to request. They will inform you how to make your application and help you gain access to the maximum amount of information possible.
Further information can be found by accessing the “Your Right to Know” via the link http://archives.sa.gov.au/content/foi-publications-reports