HPCA Agency Information Guide 

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 

Introduction

On 1 July 2010 new right to information legislation came into effect, the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act), replacing the former freedom of information law.
The GIPA Act:

  • creates new rights to information that are designed to meet community expectations of more open and transparent government
  • encourages government agencies to proactively release government information.

The Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) is committed to openness with regard to its information and is a public sector body that is complying with GIPA obligations.

The Agency Information Guide tells you in general terms about:

  • Our structure and functions
  • What kind of information we have
  • What kind of information we will make available to the public
  • How that information will be made available
  • Whether or not there is a charge to access specific kinds of information
  • Information not available in response to an access application
  • Where to find out more about right to information and how to access it.

Our structure and functions

The Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) was established on 1 July 2010 with the introduction of national registration of health professionals and the New South Wales (NSW) Health Professional Regulatory Scheme. The purpose of the HPCA is to provide secretariat support and administrative and financial services to the 14 individual Councils that manage complaints about the performance, health and conduct of health professionals in NSW.  The Councils are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Council of New South Wales
  • Chinese Medicine Council of New South Wales
  • Chiropractic Council of New South Wales
  • Dental Council of New South Wales
  • Medical Council of New South Wales
  • Medical Radiation Practice Council of New South Wales
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales
  • Occupational Therapy Council of New South Wales
  • Optometry Council of New South Wales
  • Osteopathy Council of New South Wales
  • Pharmacy Council of New South Wales
  • Physiotherapy Council of New South Wales
  • Podiatry Council of New South Wales
  • Psychology Council of New South Wales

Each Council is a statutory body established under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW). The individual health profession Councils and the Health Care Complaints Commission (which is a separate statutory authority) are jointly responsible as co-regulators for ensuring that mechanisms are provided for assessing and dealing with complaints and notifications about health practitioners’ performance, conduct and health in NSW.

The HPCA operates in tandem with the national body, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA), which is accountable for processes of registering health professionals across Australia.

Information on the current structure and functions of the HPCA is available on our website or by contacting us at:
Health Professional Councils Authority
Level 6, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Locked Bag 20, Haymarket NSW 1238
Phone: 1300 197 177
Fax: (02) 9281 2030
Email: mail@hpca.nsw.gov.au  

The individual health profession Councils may also be contacted using these details for information about the Councils and right to Council information, including access to their Agency Information Guides.

What kind of information do we have? 

Information is contained in the following categories of documents held by the HPCA:

  • Policy documents including Policy Directives, protocols and procedures
  • Documents concerning internal administration, including briefs, procedures and guidelines
  • Official records of the former Dental Technicians Registration Board and the Optical Dispensers Registration Board
  • Correspondence with other Government agencies, including NSW Health, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • Correspondence with members of the public, health professionals, health agencies and professional organisations
  • Correspondence with Ministers and other Members of Parliament
  • Internal working papers.

What kind of information is made available to the public, and how?

Open access information

The HPCA makes available the following ‘open access information’, which is free of charge on our website, or by contacting us directly:

Other proactively released information

In addition, we proactively make available a range of additional information, which may be accessed free of charge on our website or by contacting the HPCA, including:

  • HPCA publications, newsletters, statements, notices, and bulletins
  • Policies, procedures and guidelines published by the HPCA
  • Links to codes of conduct, policies and guidelines published by the individual Councils and National Boards
  • Links to the websites of the individual health profession Councils
  • Links to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW)  and other relevant legislation and regulations
  • Links to key websites, including the Health Care Complaints Commission, and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and its Registers of Practitioners

Information available on informal request 

A request may be made at any time for information held by the HPCA. While the HPCA reserves the right to require a formal access application to be made, we will generally provide the following types of information in response to an informal request, without the need to make a formal access application, provided the disclosure meets the requirements of confidentiality provisions that exist in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW):

  • Copies of correspondence, where the person requesting the correspondence was the person who sent it to the HPCA 
  • Documents that contain only personal information about a particular individual, and that is the person who is requesting the information
  • Documents that have already been made public in some other way
  • Other reasonable requests for information, the release of which would not raise any potential concerns in terms of public interest considerations against disclosure.

The HPCA may release the information in response to an informal request subject to any reasonable conditions that the HPCA thinks fit to impose.

Formal access applications for information about the HPCA

If the information you are seeking is not available on the HPCA website or by contacting us directly, you may make a formal access application for all other information held by the HPCA (other than certain ‘excluded information’, which is set out below). The access application form is available here or by contacting the HPCA.

It is advisable to contact the HPCA to discuss your request prior to making a formal access application.

Whether or not there is a charge to access specific kinds of information

Formal access applications are subject to application fees and processing charges in accordance with the GIPA Act. Information regarding the application fees and processing charges is available on the Information Privacy Commission website. 

Information that is not available in response to an access application

Some HPCA information is ‘excluded information’ under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, and access will not be made available to it in response to a formal access application. The complaint handling and investigative functions conferred by or under any specified Act is an example of ‘excluded information’.  

The HPCA is a co-regulator of complaints and notification about health practitioners’ performance, conduct and health. Some of the particular information that the HPCA cannot release in response to an access application includes:

  • Information under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 (as defined in Schedule 1 clause 1 of the GIPA Act)
  • Information about the Health Care Complaints Commission’s complaint handling, investigative, complaints resolution and reporting functions, including any functions exercised by the Health Conciliation Registry and any function concerning information to a registration authority or professional council (within the meaning of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 relating to a particular complaint (as defined in Schedule 2 clause 2 of the GIPA Act)). 
  • Private health information or personal information about a health practitioner or other person. 

Although an access application may be made for all other information held by the HPCA, we will not release information if there is an overriding public interest against the disclosure of the information. 
Whenever the HPCA decides that particular ‘open access information’ should not be publicly available, a record of the decision is made in our disclosure log.

Further information

The HPCA’s Right to Information Officer (RIO) is able to assist members of the public to obtain more details about access to government information held by the HPCA. For further information about the HPCA and inquiries about access to information contact:
Right to Information Officer
Health Professional Councils Authority
Level 6, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Locked Bag 20, Haymarket NSW 1238
Phone: 1300 197 177
Fax: (02) 9281 2030
Website: www.hpca.nsw.gov.au
Email: mail@hpca.nsw.gov.au  

You can find out more about your right to information and ways to access NSW government information by contacting the Information and Privacy Commissioner: 

Information and Privacy Commission New South Wales
Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000 
GPO Box 7011, Sydney 2001 
Phone: 1800 472 679 (1800 IPC NSW) (freecall) 
Fax: (02) 8114 3756
Website: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au 
Email: ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au

2016