Public Interest Disclosure Procedures


Public Interest Disclosure

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act) was passed by the Legislative Assembly in August 2012 and replaces the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994.

The Act places the onus on the ACTPS entity to which the disclosure relates, to take action to resolve a problem.

The Act came into effect on 1 February 2013.  It improves on the previous legislation by broadening and clarifying the types of wrongdoing that fall within the definition of disclosable conduct; establishes a clear reporting pathway for the receipt and handling of disclosures; and provides specific circumstances under which a disclosure can be made to a third party.

What is a Public Interest Disclosure (PID)?

Sometimes matters raised sit outside the normal complaint or feedback system.  Certain disclosures trigger a special framework put in place to handle serious or systemic concerns.  This scheme takes these matters out of the regular complaint handling process and places them in a category called a ‘Public Interest Disclosure’ (PID).

Disclosable conduct includes activity by an individual or an ACT Public Sector entity that:

In broad terms, a PID might arise when someone reports substantial wrongdoing in the ACT Public Sector.  The PID scheme aims to encourage those in a position to report such wrongdoing and protect them when they come forward.

A PID might relate to events which are happening now, in the past, or that may happen in the future.

A PID can be about the actions of staff and employees of the Public Sector and ACT Legislative Assembly, including Members of the Legislative Assembly.

It can also be about the actions of contractors, sub-contractors and volunteers. This might include not-for-profit or other non-governmental organisations providing a public service to the community under a contract with an ACT Public Sector entity.

Who Can Make a PID?

Any person with information that indicates substantial mismanagement or misuse of public resources can make a PID.  This includes members of the public, contractors who work with ACTPS entities and ACTPS employees.

A person may make a PID even if they are not able to identify a particular person who is responsible for the activity.

The ACTPS will also accept anonymous disclosures.  However, where an anonymous disclosure is made, the discloser should be aware that it will not be possible to keep them informed about the way the disclosure is handled nor will the ACTPS entity be able to provide them with protection.

Initial Contact

A PID does not have to be a formal complaint or report.

ACT Public Sector employees are now able to make a PID to their supervisor or manager.

A PID can also be made to a public official of an ACT Public Sector entity, for example:

Once the PID is disclosed, the supervisor or other public official becomes a Receiving Officer.  The Receiving Officer does not have the authority to make decisions about a PID. They must forward the PID to the Designated Disclosure Officer.

Whether a person has witnessed disclosable conduct personally or someone has told them about it, they should pass that information to a Designated Disclosure Officer (DDO).  This is especially important for those receiving second hand information that indicates potential disclosable conduct, including supervisors and managers receiving information from their staff.

The DDO is the person in the respective ACTPS entity who will make a decision relating to a PID.

The role of the DDO is to:

The head of an ACTPS entity is a DDO and must designate at least one other DDO in their entity.

For PIDs which relate to the head of an ACTPS entity, the DDO could be any of the following:

For a PID which relates to the Legislative Assembly, a DDO is any of the following:

Employees in the Public Sector who have information which is so serious that they cannot discuss it with someone within their entity should inform the Commissioner for Public Administration, ACT Ombudsman or the ACT Auditor-General.

How Am I Protected If I Make A Disclosure?

Under the Act, a person who acts honestly and reasonably in making a PID receives protection from attacks or reprisal that results from the disclosure (reprisal is called detrimental action in the Act).

If a person retaliates against the discloser by directly or indirectly punishing them for reporting information; that person will be held accountable for their behaviour.  Under Section 40 of the Act, the person who has undertaken detrimental action has committed an offence.  This person may be disciplined or pursued for damages in court (section 41).

What Happens After I Have Made a Disclosure?

The following steps give a brief outline of how a disclosure may be handled in an ACTPS entity.

PID Flowchart

Contacts

If you are concerned that you have information that should be investigated under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, or have any other queries about the legislation, these should be directed in the first instance to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Executive Officer.

ODPP Contact Details

Katie Cantwell, Executive Officer

Mail: GPO Box 595 Canberra City ACT 2601

Telephone: (02) 6207 5399

Email: Feedbackactdpp@act.gov.au

Relevant links

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012

http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/…