Agency Information Guide
Last published 01 Oct 2019
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
The CSO is the largest provider of legal services to state government agencies in NSW.
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).
(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.
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.
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 provides support to victims of crime, and families and friends of missing persons.
The State Parole Authority makes decisions about releasing inmates safely on parole and setting conditions.
The Legal Profession Admission Board is responsible for approving the admission of lawyers and the appointment of public notaries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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:
- Information held by the former Department of Family and Community Services
- Information held by Corrective Services NSW
- Information held by Youth Justice NSW
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:
- Analysis and research reports
- Corrective Services NSW
- Courts, Tribunals and Service Delivery
- Expected Waiting Times for social housing
- Fact Sheets
- Open Data
- Data.NSW brings together a list of NSW Government datasets available in one searchable website. The NSW Government aims to make data more accessible to the public and to industry to stimulate innovative approaches to service delivery. DCJ publishes an array of information that can be accessed at Data.NSW.
- DCJ statistics provides the most comprehensive collection of key data released to date in one convenient location. DCJ statistics helps us meet our commitment to transparency, accountability and open data sharing with our clients, partners, the media and the NSW public.
- NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research - Assists policy makers and administrators in the criminal justice system to develop and implement strategies which reduce crime, and provide a more efficient, effective and equitable justice system.
- Youth Justice
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:
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
- Name Department of Justice Operating Account
A formal access application is subject to the following application fees and processing charges:
Type of Information
Access to information of a personal nature
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
A processing charge of $30.00 per hour is applicable for non personal information
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.
Browse policies by topic including housing, adoption, Out of Home Care, child protection, domestic and family violence.
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
Certain parts of the COPP are not publicly available as it contains sensitive information regarding the management and operation of correctional facilities in NSW.
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.
The Code of Ethical Conduct outlines the standard of behaviour expected by all workers of the Department.
Listing of all news, media releases and media statements by the Department of Communities and Justice.
Ministers' overseas travel information.
The purpose of the Business Ethics is to establish a mutual understanding of public duty obligations when the Department is working with external parties.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.