- What records are covered by the State Records Act?
- Which State records are available for public access?
- What is an access direction?
- Why close some records to public access?
- Who makes access directions?
- How are these directions made?
- How long do access directions remain in force?
- Can access to records be withheld for other reasons?
- How can I find out about particular access directions?
- Can I apply to have an access direction made for records not already covered?
- Can I appeal against a CPA direction?
- Is it possible to access records closed to public access?
- Is it possible to obtain access to records still held in public offices?
- Is it possible to access records less than 30 years old?
- Where can I get more information?
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 requiring public offices to create records of their business and administrative transactions and ensuring that records of significant value are preserved. The underlying principle is that all records of enduring value will be publicly available in due course.
The State Records Act establishes a general entitlement to access to State records that are in the 'open access period', that is records that are at least 30 years old. There is a presumption that records in the 'open access period' should be open to public access.
The fact that a record is in the open access period, however, does not automatically mean that it is available for public access. For a record to be available under the Act it must be the subject of an 'open to public access' direction.
Although there is presumption that records in the open access period should be open to public access, some contain information, such as sensitive personal details, requiring a longer period of closure.
NSW State Archives maintains a Register of Access Directions.
The register contains details of all access directions made since the implementation of the State Records Act.
If a record is not the subject of an access direction you can apply to the responsible public office for an OPA direction to be made. There is no application fee and the public office must deal with your application within 14 days. If no direction is made within this time, the records are considered to be subject to an OPA direction.
The State Records Act does not provide a specific mechanism for an individual to appeal against a CPA direction. The Act does provide for the NSW State Archives to request a review of an access direction by the Minister responsible for the public office that made the direction.
In circumstances where you disagree with a decision made by a public office to restrict access, it is appropriate to write to NSW State Archives and the responsible office or its Minister seeking reconsideration of the decision.
ARCHIVES IN BRIEF
Content in this Guide was previously published as Archives in Brief 9 - Your rights of access
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