Agency Information Guide

Agency Information Guide

This guide describes what the City of Sydney is, and how it operates. It details how members of the public, community organisations, the media and government agencies can interact with us.

Structure and functions of Council

The Sydney local government area covers about 26.15 square kilometres and is home to more than 180,000 people and 20,000 businesses.

The City of Sydney Council is constituted under the Local Government Act 1993 and the City of Sydney Act 1988. As a capital city council, the City of Sydney is responsible for the commercial, financial and cultural hub of Sydney, while at the same time servicing and enhancing its local precincts and villages. The City attracts up to one million visitors every day; to work, shop, play, be educated, conduct business or see the sights.

The City’s landmark Sustainable Sydney 2030 program is the driving force behind everything we do. It supports our provision of a range of services, programs and initiatives on behalf of residents, businesses and visitors and advances Sydney’s position as Australia’s premier city.

More information about Sydney can be found at City of Sydney.

Organisational overview

The City of Sydney is led by the Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for the efficient operation of the City and for ensuring implementation of Council’s decisions. 

The City is made up of 9 divisions to assist the Chief Executive Officer in carrying out the functions in section 335 of the Local Government Act 1993. Each division is headed by a director responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs to achieve the City’s vision.

The City of Sydney's role and responsibilities include a broad range of commercial, residential, community and cultural services. The City’s corporate and strategic plans detail our priority activities and how we set out to achieve them.

Local government and the public

As a service organisation, most of the City’s activities have an impact on the public. Below is an outline of how the broad functions of Council can affect the public.

Service functions

The City provides services and facilities to the public. These include community health, recreation, education and information services. We also provide services related to environmental protection, waste removal and disposal, land and property, industry and tourism development, civil infrastructure, maintenance and construction.

Regulatory functions

The City regulates developments and buildings to ensure that they meet certain requirements affecting the amenity and safety of the community; this includes issuing approvals, orders and building certificates. Members of the public must be aware of, and comply with these regulations.

Revenue functions

Revenue functions affect the public directly. Revenue from rates and other charges paid by the public helps fund services and facilities provided for the community. These functions include levying rates, charges, fees as well as borrowings and investments.

Administrative functions

Administrative functions have an impact on the community through the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided. Our administrative functions include employment of staff and development of management plans, and financial and performance reporting.

Enforcement functions

Enforcement functions will only affect those members of the public who are in breach of legislation. This includes matters such as the non-payment of rates and charges, environmental planning offences and parking offences. The City may issue penalty notices or initiate proceedings for breaches.

Participation in local government


Local government in Australia is based on the principle of representative democracy. This means that people elect representatives to their local council to make decisions on their behalf. In New South Wales, local government elections are held every four years.

The City of Sydney is represented by a publicly elected Council that is responsible for providing leadership and vision for the city. The City of Sydney is represented by a Lord Mayor and nine Councillors who are elected for a four-year term.

The role of Council is to:

  • represent the community and advocate its viewpoint
  • formulate policy and make decisions that will benefit the community as a whole
  • oversee the implementation of policy and review the performance of the organisation
  • approve the Council budget and key expenditure items.

Members of the public are encouraged to discuss local community concerns with their elected representatives. Please go to the Councillors page of the City’s website for further information and contact details.

Public participation

There are many ways to participate in forming local government policy. Members of the public are encouraged to participate and provide input to issues considered by Council. The City of Sydney has community consultation meetings which help keep residents up to date with local issues of concern. The meetings are held at different venues and provide an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with local Councillors and City staff. Dates are listed in advance in each edition of the City of Sydney’s community newsletter, and local residents are notified a week before each meeting.

Councillors serve on committees, which deal with various areas of responsibility. Residents, ratepayers and interested parties are invited to attend and address committee meetings on items listed on committee agendas.

The current committees are:

  • Corporate, Finance, Properties and Tenders Committee
  • Cultural and Community Committee
  • Environment Committee
  • Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee
  • Planning and Development Committee
  • Central Sydney Planning Committee
  • Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee

Members of the public wishing to address a committee meeting should read the guidelines for speakers at Council Committees

Council Information and access to information

Information available

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) provides the public with a general right of access to information held by the City as long as it does not infringe privacy or other laws or there are public interest considerations against disclosure.

A range of information about the City and its operations is available on the City’s register of open access information. This includes:

Policy documents

A range of policy documents are published on the City's policy register.

Information about Council and Council meetings

  • City of Sydney Code of Meeting Practice.
  • Agendas, minutes and business papers for Council and committee meetings.
  • Councillors’ expenses policy.

Council administration

  • City of Sydney Code of Conduct.
  • Council’s annual reports.
  • Annual financial reports.
  • Equal employment opportunity management plan.
  • Council’s land register.
  • Register of investments.
  • Register of delegations.
  • Register of graffiti removal work (in accordance with s13 of the Graffiti Control Act 2008).
  • Register of Councillor voting on planning matters (in line with s375A of the Local Government Act 1993).

Development and planning

  • Environmental planning instruments and development control plans.
  • Development applications (within the meaning of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) and associated documents.

Other documents

  • Leases and licenses for use of public land classified as community land.
  • Register of contracts.

How to access information the City holds

Under the GIPA Act there is an underlying rationale to encourage greater accessibility to government information for members of the public.

Much of the information the City holds is made available on the City’s website. Information that is not published on the City’s website may be requested via informal release or via a formal access application in line with sections 7 to 9 of the GIPA Act.

Further information about how to access City information is available on the access to information page of the City’s website, or you can contact us:

Level 2, Town Hall House
456 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Monday–Friday: 8am–6pm
Public holidays: Closed

Public interest test

When a person requests information from us, we must decide whether it is in the public’s interest to disclose the information that has been requested. Access will be granted if the public interest in favour of disclosure outweighs the public interest against disclosure. This is called the ‘public interest test’.

Informal release

We endeavour to release information in response to an informal request subject to the public interest test and reasonable conditions. However, it may be necessary to submit a formal access application if the information:

  • is of a sensitive nature
  • contains personal or confidential information about a third party
  • would involve a considerable amount of time and resources to assemble.


When a person requests information from us, that information often contains details about other individuals, businesses or agencies. Where the request is a formal access application made under the GIPA Act, we may need to consult with those third parties before deciding whether or not to release the information to the applicant.

Consultation with third parties is important in balancing information access rights, and the rights of individuals to protect and control the privacy of their own information.

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been established to oversee the GIPA Act. The OIPC provides information about the right to access information and can be contacted via:

Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2001
GPO Box 7011
Sydney NSW 2001
1800 472 679 02 8114 3756

Last updated: Thursday, 2 October 2014