Publice Interest Disclosure Procedures
What are public interest disclosures?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 (the Act) supports the reporting of wrongdoing in the public sector. The Act provides a method for any member of the public, including ACT public servants, to report wrongdoing in the ACT public sector. This is known as making a public interest disclosure (another familiar term is ‘whistle-blowing’).
These procedures apply to disclosures made to any ACT Government Agency including the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Who can make a disclosure?
Anyone can make a disclosure; however there are penalties for making deliberately false and/or misleading disclosures.
Who can receive a disclosure?
You can make a disclosure to the following bodies:
- the body where the conduct occurred
- a body you think may have the power to investigate the conduct
- the ACT Ombudsman; or
- the ACT Auditor General.
Anyone who wishes to make a complaint about actions by this office or its staff should be directed to the Corporate Manager on 6207 5399.
Nominated executive to receive disclosures
The Corporate Manager has been nominated by the Director to receive public interest disclosures.
How can a disclosure be made?
A disclosure can be made by either phoning the Corporate Manager or putting it in writing. There is no specific form for disclosures but you should mention your name and contact details. You do not have to mention your name however, if you do not, the DPP has no obligation to investigate the matter.
You will also need to include further information such as:
- Who you think did the wrongdoing. You do not need to provide the identity of the person/s but you do need to give enough information in order for the investigation to proceed.
- The nature of the wrongdoing and your version of events. It will help if you can provide as much information as possible.
- When and where the wrongdoing occurred.
- Any witnesses to the wrongdoing.
- Any documentation you have that may confirm the wrongdoing occurred.
How is protection provided to a person making a disclosure?
The Act makes it an offence to victimise a person because that person has made a
disclosure. If the person making the disclosure is a Government employee and at risk
of victimisation they can be moved to another position. If the person making the
disclosure is victimised they are able to go to court to take action to stop the
victimisation or seek damages.
You may need to see a lawyer about your rights or if considering taking a case to court.
What happens after a disclosure has been made?
After you have made a disclosure the nominated executive (that is the Corporate
Manager) will be responsible for:
- assessing whether the disclosure falls within the Act
- providing information about the Act and its ramifications to the informant
- clarifying further details of the disclosure or obtaining other relevant information where necessary
- assessing whether the office is the appropriate agency for investigating the disclosure or whether the matter should be referred to another agency or the Ombudsman
- advising the informant whether the disclosure will be investigated or not and if not, advising as to why, or if it is to be referred to another agency or the Ombudsman and the reasons for doing so
- providing appropriate assistance to the informant where unlawful reprisal may occur
- advising the Director of formal receipt of a disclosure including advice as to proposed action and providing status reports to the Director until the matter is finalised
- where necessary, identifying or appointing appropriate officers to ensure an impartial and fair investigation to establish whether the disclosure has substance; and
- where necessary, deciding if further action should be taken through the use of procedures for investigating a procedure, or discipline, or fraud investigation as set out in the Public Sector Management Act 1994 and Standards.
What may be disclosed?
The Act covers different kinds of wrongdoing in the ACT public sector such as:
- misuse of information
- dishonesty at work
- negligent or improper management of government funds
- victimising a person because they have made a public interest disclosure (known as unlawful reprisal); or
- trying to influence a public sector employee to act improperly.
Public Interest Disclosures for the ACT DPP should be forwarded to:
GPO Box 595
Canberra ACT 2601
Ask the contact officer or:
- Access the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 at www.legislation.act.gov.au
- Access a detailed guide to the Public Interest Disclosure regime at www.psm.act.gov.au
For further information, telephone or write to the following:
GPO Box 442
Canberra ACT 2601
Ph: 6276 0111
ACT Auditor General
PO Box 275
Civic Square ACT 2608
Ph: 6207 0833
If you are not happy with the outcome of your investigation you can check with the Ombudsman or the Auditor-General. You may have grounds for further action or complaint