Skip to Content

First adopted: October 2020
Next scheduled review:  3rd Quarter, 2021

The Department of Communities and Justice’s (the department/DCJ) Agency Information Guide (AIG) promotes the objects of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 by providing you with an understanding of the following:

  • What our structure and functions are.
  • Describes the way our functions affect members of the public.
  • Specifies arrangements that exist to enable members of the public to participate in the formulation of the Department’s policy and the exercise of our functions.
  • What kind of government information we hold.
  • What kind of government information we will make available to the public.
  • How information will be made available.
  • Whether or not there is a charge to access specific kinds of information.

Who are we?

The Stronger Communities Cluster was created on 1 July 2019, bringing together and replacing the Family and Communities and Justice Clusters. This brings under one roof, NSW government services targeted at achieving safe, just, inclusive and resilient communities.

The department is the lead agency in the new Stronger Communities Cluster.

The department delivers a range of services, including but not limited to the following:

  • child protection services (early intervention and preservation, statutory child protection and out-of-home-care)
  • community inclusion services (carers, ageing, disability inclusion)
  • assistance with housing and homelessness
  • legal, court and supervision services to the people of NSW by managing courts and justice services
  • implementing programs to reduce crime and re‑offending
  • managing custodial and community-based correctional services, protecting rights and community standards
  • advising on law reform and legal matters.

Collaborating for better outcomes for the community

Working together in the Stronger Communities cluster means we can continue to deliver services with a more unified and collaborative approach. There is now a greater focus on prevention and early intervention, faster responses, more seamless operations, less duplication of effort and better outcomes.

The department is committed to improving outcomes for:

  • children and young people
  • Aboriginal people
  • people with disability
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • people experiencing domestic and family violence
  • victims of sexual assault
  • juvenile offenders
  • people at high risk of reoffending
  • people experiencing homelessness.

Communities and Justice - Premiers Priorities 2019

We are now focused on making a real and lasting difference to the lives of people across NSW and are responsible for delivering the Premier’s Priorities, including:

  • Decreasing the proportion of children and young people re-reported at risk of significant harm by 20 per cent by 2023.
  • Doubling the number of children in safe and permanent homes by 2023 for children in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care.
  • Reducing the number of domestic violence reoffenders by 25 per cent by 2023.
  • Reducing adult reoffending following release from prison by 5 per cent by 2023.
  • Reducing street homelessness across NSW by 50 per cent by 2025.

DCJ Strategic Direction and Purpose

As an agency, DCJ’s purpose statement articulates what we are here to do:

  • Our purpose is to help create a safe, just, resilient and inclusive NSW in which everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential.

Guiding us on how we deliver on our ‘Purpose’ is the DCJ Strategic Direction 2020-2024. The Strategic Direction provides a foundation for our work in improving outcomes in the community. It guides us in how we build a community where the people of NSW flourish and are empowered to live their lives to the full.

Department Organisational Chart

A copy of our organisational structure.

The DCJ executive team consists of the following:

  • Michael Coutts-Trotter, Secretary
  • Catherine D’Elia, Deputy Secretary, Courts, Tribunals and Service Delivery
  • Peter Severin, Commissioner, Corrective Services NSW
  • Simone Czech, Deputy Secretary, Child Protection and Permanency, District and Youth Justice Services
  • Simone Walker, Deputy Secretary, Strategy, Policy and Commissioning
  • Paul Vevers, Deputy Secretary, Housing, Disability and District Services
  • Paul McKnight, A/Deputy Secretary, Law Reform and Legal Services
  • John Hubby, Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services.

Separate statutory agencies, office holders and independent bodies

The department is responsible for managing all GIPA functions in relation to the statutory agencies, office holders and independent bodies outlined in the table below. You may find more information about each of them by clicking on the respective link, which will direct you to their website.

Name of office, statutory agency or independent body

Description of functions

Crown Solicitor’s Office

The CSO is the largest provider of legal services to state government agencies in NSW.

Registrar of Community Housing

The Registrar of Community Housing is responsible for registering, monitoring and regulating community-housing providers in New South Wales under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH) and the New South Wales Local Scheme (NSWLS). 

NSW Ageing and Disability Commission


(including the Official Community Visitors scheme)

The NSW Ageing and Disability Commission is an independent agency of the NSW government whose role it is to protect older people and adults with disability from abuse, neglect and exploitation from someone they know living in their home or community, and to promote their fundamental human rights.

Office of the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People

The Advocate works to improve the safety, welfare and well-being of all children and young people in NSW, and to speak up for children and young people to ensure that their rights are respected and their points of view heard by adult decision makers.

NSW Housing Appeals Committee

The NSW Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) is an independent agency, which deals with appeals from people who are unhappy with a decision made by social housing providers. HAC was established to ensure that clients of government funded housing services have access to an independent system of review and redress.

Victims Services

Victims Services provides support to victims of crime, and families and friends of missing persons.

State Parole Authority

The State Parole Authority makes decisions about releasing inmates safely on parole and setting conditions.

The Legal Profession Admission Board

The Legal Profession Admission Board is responsible for approving the admission of lawyers and the appointment of public notaries.

Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB)

The ADB promotes anti-discrimination and equal opportunity principles and policies throughout NSW. It provides a free, confidential enquiry service and helps parties resolve discrimination complaints relating to race, nationality, sex, pregnancy, breastfeeding, disability, age, homosexuality, transgender, marital or domestic status, carer’s responsibilities or ethno-religious origin.

Inspector Custodial Services (ICS)

The ICS is appointed to inspect adult correctional facilities and Youth Justice centres, and reports to Parliament on the findings of these inspections. The Inspector also oversees the Official Visitor programs conducted in correctional facilities and Youth Justice centres.

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC)

The OLSC is an independent statutory body that deals with complaints about lawyers under the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014. The OLSC consists of the Legal Services Commissioner and staff who advise and assist the Commissioner in the exercise of his functions and powers.

Public Defenders Office (PDO)

The PDO provides salaried barristers, independent of government, to appear for clients who are charged with serious criminal offences and who have been granted legal assistance by Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) or a community legal centre. Public Defenders also provide legal advice and education for criminal law practitioners and play an active role in law reform.

Legal Services Council and Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation

The Legal Services Council is an inter-governmental statutory corporation created by the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014, applied in Victoria and NSW pursuant to the bilateral agreement on the Legal Profession Uniform Framework. The Commissioner for Uniform Legal Services Regulation is a statutory officer, and performs the dual roles of Commissioner and CEO of the Council.

Office of the Solicitor General and Crown Advocate

The Solicitor General is the second law officer of the State. The Solicitor General advises the Crown, especially on constitutional matters, and appears in court, often the High Court, acting for NSW. The Crown Advocate assists the Solicitor General and often specialises in criminal matters.

Information held by the Department

The department holds a vast array of information relating to our clients who receive a service, and broadly encapsulates information relating to the following:

  • Courts, Tribunals and Services
  • Youth Justice
  • Child protection
  • Housing
  • Corrective Services.

Given the broad range of functions and activities covered by our Divisions, a general description of information commonly held by DCJ is captured below, including but not limited to:

  • personnel records
  • administrative records
  • correspondence
  • submissions and consultation responses
  • child protection and out of home care records
  • Youth Justice records
  • custodial records
  • adoption records
  • information of clients receiving housing assistance products, the NSW Housing Register and public housing tenancy information
  • complaint files
  • case files relating to court and tribunal cases
  • legal files that include legal advice, client instructions, information relevant to hearings, etc.

You may view the specific type of records we hold in more detail by clicking on any of the below links:

The DCJ’s Privacy Management Plan 2020 also contains detailed information regarding the type of records held by each operational area of the Department.

How to access information

Proactive release of information

Section 7 of the GIPA Act authorises the department to exercise its discretionary power to proactively release government information, in any manner considered appropriate, free of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost. The department promotes the release of newly published information, which may be of interest to the public, and has programs in place to encourage the proactive release of information.

The Open Government, Information and Privacy Unit (OGIP Unit) coordinate an annual review, where we provide targeted training to divisions within the department informing them of their obligation to proactively release information under the GIPA Act. The training is designed to inform and encourage senior executives to actively review and update their information holdings on the department’s website. Due to the advent of COVID-19, DCJ have not conducted any face-to-face training, but hope to resume in time for next year’s annual review.

The OGIP Unit conducted a review in May 2020, where instead of face-to-face training, a proactive disclosure factsheet was developed to raise awareness, and to assist senior executives understand their proactive disclosure obligations. The department’s General Counsel directly emailed a copy of the factsheet to all deputy secretaries, advising of their proactive disclosure obligations and them required then to advise what information they proactively released. The OGIP Unit will conduct its next review in the last quarter of the next financial year.

Consistent with the principles underlying the proactive disclosure of information, the below information may be considered of interest to the public:

Informal access applications

The GIPA Act authorises the release of government information in response to an Informal Request for Information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Information disclosed in response to an informal request may be released with deletions, subject to reasonable conditions or in a preferred format.

It is important to note that DCJ has no legal obligation to disclose information on an informal basis, and may request a person lodge a formal access application.

Generally, the following information may be released informally:

  • Copies of correspondence sent by an individual to the department, if the applicant is the person who sent the information.
  • Records that contain only the personal information of the individual requesting the record.
  • Records that are in the public domain.
  • Other records, the release of which would not involve an overriding public interest against disclosure or raise any potential public interest considerations against disclosure.

Formal access applications

Formal access applications may be required where the government information sought is more complex, large in scope, is non-personal in nature and or requires consultation with other parties.

A person who lodges an access application has a legally enforceable right to be provided with access to the information requested unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the subject information.

You may lodge an access application online where you can pay the application fee by credit or debit card.

Alternatively, you may download and complete a Formal Access Application form and forward it to either of the addresses listed below:

Ashfield
Address: Open Government, Information and Privacy Unit
Department of Communities and Justice
Locked Bag 4028
ASHFIELD NSW 2131
Phone: (02) 9716 2662
Email: facsgipa@dcj.nsw.gov.au

Haymarket
Address: Open Government, Information and Privacy Unit
Department of Communities and Justice
GPO Box 6
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Phone: (02) 8346 1526
Email: infoandprivacy@dcj.nsw.gov.au

Fees and charges

The application fee for a formal access application that is lodged online must be paid by credit card or debit card. The application fee for a formal access application that is lodged by post must be paid by either:

  • Cheque or money order, made payable to the Department of Communities and Justice.
  • Electronic funds transfer:
    • Name Department of Justice Operating Account
      BSB 032 001
      Account Number 201716

A formal access application is subject to the following application fees and processing charges:

Type of Information

Application Fee

Processing Charge

Access to information of a personal nature

$30.00

The first 20 hours of processing time is covered by the application fee, after that there is a charge of $30.00 per hour

Access to information of a non personal nature

$30.00

A processing charge of $30.00 per hour is applicable for non personal information

Internal Review

$40.00

Not Applicable

An applicant is eligible for a 50% discount on processing charges if the applicant is:

  • the holder of a Pensioner Concession card issued by the Commonwealth that is in force, or
  • a full-time student, or
  • a non-profit organisation (including a person applying for or on behalf of a non-profit organisation).

Mandatory proactive release of information

Mandatory proactive release of information incorporates the department’s open access information that it makes available free of charge, on this website, unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure, and includes the following:

Documents tabled in Parliament

Please visit the Parliament of New South Wales website to view a complete list of all documents tabled by DCJ in Parliament.

Policies

Browse policies by topic including housing, adoption, Out of Home Care, child protection, domestic and family violence.

Disclosure log

Details concerning decisions made by DCJ in response to formal access applications that may be of interest to other members of the public may be included on the department’s disclosure log.

The disclosure log provides members of the public with details regarding:

  • the date the application was decided
  • a description of the information to which access was provided
  • a statement as to whether the information is now available to other members of the public
  • how the information can be accessed.

You can view the DCJ disclosure log.

Register of Government contracts

DCJ is required to maintain a register of government contracts that records information about each contract that has, or is likely to have, a value of $150,000 or more. Please visit the NSW eTendering website to view the register of DCJ contracts.

Record of open access information that it does not make publicly available on the basis of an overriding public interest against disclosure

In accordance with section 6(5) of the GIPA Act, the department is required to maintain a record of open access information that it does not make publicly available on the basis of an overriding public interest against disclosure. The below table lists open access information that is not publicly available:

Type of Open Access Information

Name of record

General information

Policy/procedural document

Custodial Operations Policy and Procedures (COPP)

Certain parts of the COPP are not publicly available as it contains sensitive information regarding the management and operation of correctional facilities in NSW.

Policy/procedural document

The Structured Decision Making (SDM) System – Screening and Response Priority

The SDM is not publicly available as it contains information, the disclosure of which, would prejudice the effectiveness and integrity of the assessment, evaluation and decision-making tools, and the reliability of their results, by revealing its conduct.

Code of Ethical Conduct

The Code of Ethical Conduct outlines the standard of behaviour expected by all workers of the Department.

Media releases

Listing of all news, media releases and media statements by the Department of Communities and Justice.

Ministerial Travel

Ministers' overseas travel information.

Statement of Ethics

The purpose of the Business Ethics is to establish a mutual understanding of public duty obligations when the Department is working with external parties.

Annual reports, budgets and other publications

DCJ’s annual reports include other prescribed open access information including the legislation that the department administers; a list of the department’s major assets, and the total number and total value of properties disposed of by the department during the previous financial year.

Alternative means to access information held by the DCJ

The department offers a number of alternative methods for requesting access to information held by DCJ, outside the ambit of the GIPA Act, including but not limited to the following:

Accessing your care records

If you lived in out-of-home care as a child or young person, you can request a copy of records about your care history. You can view further information about how to apply for your records, what to expect when you apply, and how to access support by clicking on the above link.

Adoption

For people who want to apply for past adoption information or those who are considering making contact with an adopted person, birth parent or family member.

Court transcripts

You can order transcripts from court and tribunal proceedings without the need to lodge a GIPA request.

Public participation in the formulation of DCJ policy

DCJ is committed to a policy of consultation with clients and community partners. These include funded services, service providers, non-government organisations, local government, philanthropists, citizens, the private sector and other NSW Government agencies.

Any member of the public may participate in our policy formulation by writing to the Secretary with suggestions or raising issues that concern them or the community. Various forums have also been established to facilitate such participation, such as the NSW Government’s Have Your Say community engagement portal.

The department and its related agencies consult the NSW community on a variety of projects, services, policies and law reform. The community is being, or has been consulted, on a number of projects that may be viewed on the department’s website.

You may also contact the department to lodge a complaint or provide feedback, and access services offered by the department.

The department also maintains a presence on social media and our various mediums may be accessed at www.facs.nsw.gov.au/about/media/social.

Information and Privacy Commission NSW

The role of the Information Commissioner is to raise public awareness of the right to information laws and provide assistance, information, support and advice to government departments and the public.

The Information Commissioner has broad investigative powers and may require government departments to provide information and conduct inquiries pertinent to the administration of the GIPA Act.

The Information Commissioner conducts reviews of decisions by DCJ where an applicant is aggrieved by a decision.

Further information may be obtained by contacting the Information and Privacy Commission NSW.

www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
Phone: 1800 472 679

Was this content useful?
Last updated: 14 Oct 2020