Agency information guide
This guide describes what the City of Sydney is and how it operates. It describes what information the City holds and how the City makes that information available. It also details how you can interact with us.
The City of Sydney local area covers about 26.15 square kilometres and is home to more than 225,000 people and 21,500 businesses.
The Council of the City of Sydney 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. At the same time it’s responsible for servicing and enhancing its local precincts and villages. Every day 1.3 million people live, work, study, do business, shop and go out in our area.
The City's landmark Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy is the driving force behind everything we do. It supports how we provide a range of services, programs and initiatives for local residents, businesses and visitors. The strategy aims to help make Sydney as green, global and connected as possible by 2030.
Read more about us and learn more about the local area.
The City of Sydney is led by the Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for the efficient operation of the organisation and ensuring Council decisions are carried out.
More detail about our organisational structure can be found in the statutory returns annual report.
The City of Sydney is made up of 9 divisions that assist the Chief Executive Officer to carry out the functions in section 335 of the Local Government Act 1993. Directors head each division and are responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs to achieve our vision.
Th City of Sydney's roles and responsibilities include a broad range of commercial, residential, community and cultural services. The corporate and strategic plans detail our priorities and how we set out to achieve them.
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.
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.
The City regulates developments and buildings to ensure they meet certain requirements affecting community amenity and safety. This includes issuing development and construction or demolition approvals, orders and building certificates.
Revenue functions affect the public directly. Revenue from rates and other charges paid by the public helps fund services and facilities the City provides for the community. These functions include levying rates, charges and fees as well as borrowings and investments.
Administrative functions have an impact on the community through the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided. Our administrative functions include employing staff, developing management plans and financial and performance reporting.
Enforcement functions include matters such as the non-payment of rates and charges, environmental planning or companion animal offences, construction outside of hours and parking offences. The City may issue penalty notices or initiate legal proceedings for breaches.
There are many ways you can participate in the local government policy process.
You’re encouraged to provide input on issues that Council is considering.
The City holds consultation meetings about precinct issues of concern across the local area, which are an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with councillors and City staff.
Sydney Your Say is where you can provide feedback about the City’s community consultations. To provide feedback on development applications, visit the City’s online services.
You can also sign up to one of our email newsletters to stay informed.
Councillors serve on committees, which have different areas of responsibility.
The current committees are:
- Corporate, Finance, Properties and Tenders Committee
- Cultural and Community Committee
- Environment Committee
- Transport Heritage and Planning Committee.
City of Sydney representatives are members of:
- Central Sydney Planning Committee
- Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee.
Council appoints 3 members to the City of Sydney Local Planning Panel.
Members of the public are invited to attend and address committee meetings about items listed on the agenda. If you wish to attend and address a committee meeting, read the guidelines for speakers at Council committees.
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 NSW, local government elections are held every 4 years.
The Council of the City of Sydney is publicly elected and responsible for providing leadership and vision for the city. It is represented by a Lord Mayor and 9 councillors who are elected for a 4-year term. The Lord Mayor is elected by popular vote.
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 their concerns with their elected Council representatives.
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 provides the public with a general right to access information we hold unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosing the information.
A range of information about us and our operations is available on our register of open access information.
Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act agencies should have a proactive program to release government information, which should be reviewed each year.
In recent years, our program to proactively release information has included these 4 areas:
- providing information that’s not legally required to be provided, through extensive publication on our website
- maintaining and promoting to employees a practice of openness and accountability in relation to information and decision making
- identifying information that is requested often that can be made available by self-service arrangements
- planning and starting open data initiatives.
Our most recent review is detailed in the statutory returns annual report.
The City supports providing data that enables reuse by the public and the private sector in apps and for research. In 2017/18, the City approved an open data approach, process, release strategy and open data portal. These serve as an important part of proactive disclosure.
We identify potential data for publication by communicating with organisation divisions and system owners and exploring possibilities with them.
The City’s website contains a significant amount of information that the City publishes proactively.
Each annual report lists a large amount of this information in the section reporting on the City’s compliance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
Under the act there is an underlying rationale to encourage greater accessibility to government information and transparency of council decision making for members of the public.
Information that is not published on the City’s website may be requested through an informal request (no application fee) or a formal access application in line with section 41 of the act. (Application fee will apply plus hourly processing charges – sometimes exemptions and discounts apply.).
Informal requests and formal access applications
We endeavour wherever possible and appropriate to deal with requests for information through informal information requests. We encourage you to seek information first by searching our website, and then through an information access request. Not all applications can be treated informally but the vast majority can be.
It may be necessary to submit a formal section 41 access application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act if the information you are seeking:
- is of a sensitive nature
- contains personal, confidential or commercially sensitive information about a third party
- would involve a considerable amount of time and resources to assemble
- is of uncommon complexity.
Before making an access application please speak to a member of the Information Access team by calling 02 9265 9333.
Where access applications under the act are made, we will apply application, processing and advanced deposit charges as specified in the act. The fee for these applications is $30. Processing is charged at an hourly rate of $30.
Public interest test
When a person makes an access application under the act, we must decide whether there are any public interest considerations against disclosing the information. If so, we need to determine the weight of the public interest considerations in favour of and against disclosing the information and where the balance between those interests lies.
We can only refuse access if the public interests against disclosure outweigh those in favour of disclosure. This is called the public interest test.
When a person requests information from us, that information often contains details about other individuals, businesses or agencies. We may need to consult with those third parties before deciding whether or not to release the information to the applicant.
Consulting with third parties is important in balancing information access rights with the rights of individuals to protect and control the privacy of information about themselves.
The Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) oversees the Government Information (Public Access) Act. The commission provides information about the right to access information and can be contacted at:
Level 17, 201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 7011
Sydney NSW 2001
1800 472 679
02 8114 3756