In January 1996 the then Premier, The Hon. Bob Carr announced that Government House would no longer be the private residence of the Governor and that both the house and grounds would be open. In March 1996 Government House opened to the public under the management of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.
In a media release dated 7th October 2011, the Premier The Hon. Barry O'Farrell announced that the Governor would return to Government House, but the public would continue to have access to the house and its grounds.
Whilst the Governor has first call on Government House, the house can be used by the State Government and charitable organisations, as well as being accessable to the general public.
The Governor continues to host all Vice Regal functions at Government House with the support of the Office of the Governor and Historic Houses Trust. Such Vice Regal events include courtesy calls from Heads of State, Royalty, Spiritual Leaders, Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers as well as incoming and outgoing members of the Consular Corps. The Governor also receives calls from the various organisations she is patron of. Luncheons and dinners are generally hosted out of the Dining Room of Government House, with the exception of the larger seated events taking place out of the Ballroom. This involves an exquisite setting of the tables in full vice regal gala.
Along with vice regal receptions for various government, charitable and patronage organisations, the Governor hosts annual vice regal receptions for the Consular Corp; Country particpants in the Royal Easter Show; the Queen’s Birthday; memebers of the armed services and other service organisations in the state; and a Christmas reception.
Award ceremonies are also a regular occurrence at Government House. Twice a year the Governor holds Investiture Ceremonies involving the presentation of honours and awards to citizens of the State included on the Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday Honours lists. Recipients are principally invested with awards under the Order of Australia; but there are also a number of Service and Bravery awards. The Governor also hosts and presents awards on behalf of organisations such as the Royal Humane Society, Royal Life Saving Society, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Queen’s, Scout and Guide Awards, Boys Brigade NSW.
With the Governor’s support, the house continues to be a centre for a lively program of cultural and community events and is open to the public for tours four days a week.