Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act) supports the reporting of wrongdoing in the ACT public sector. The Act provides a legal framework for determining what types of wrongdoing qualify as public interest disclosures (PIDs) and provides protections for those that disclose such acts, whether they are public officials or private individuals.
What is a Public Interest Disclosure (PID)?
A PID is a disclosure by a person about matters that are so serious they sit outside the normal complaint or feedback system. This can include disclosures about the activity of an individual or ACT public sector (ACTPS) entity that:
- amounts to maladministration; or
- results in substantial and specific danger to the health and safety of the public or the environment.
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 ACTPS 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 ACTPS entity.
The PID scheme aims to encourage those in a position to report such wrongdoing and protect them when they come forward.
Who Can Make a PID?
Anyone can make a PID if they suspect wrongdoing has or may occur. 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 Directorate 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.
A PID can be made by anyone in any way - orally or in writing. It does not have to be a formal complaint or report.
ACTPS employees are able to make a PID to their supervisor or manager.
Once the PID is disclosed to an ACTPS employee, that person 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 Disclosure Officer.
Whether a person has witnessed disclosable conduct personally or someone has told them about it, they should pass that information to a Disclosure Officer (DO). 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 DO must assess the PID and, if they are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the conduct is disclosable conduct, they must refer it to the ACT Integrity Commission for further assessment. The ACT Integrity Commission will determine whether the disclosure amounts to a PID and how it should be investigated.
The JACS DOs are:
- Executive Branch Manager, Governance and Business Improvement and Senior Executive Responsible for Business Risk and Integrity.
Phone: (02) 5124 9814
- Chief Operating Officer
Phone: (02) 6207 4813
- Chief Human Resources Officer
Phone: (02) 6205 3995
The above DOs are located at 220 London Circuit, Canberra City and can be contacted via mail at:
Justice and Community Safety Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
The DOs were appointed under Notifiable Instrument NI2018-465.
For PIDs which relate to the head of an ACTPS entity the DO could be any of the following:
- the Public Sector Standards Commissioner; or
- the Head of Service; or
- the ACT Auditor-General; or
- the ACT Ombudsman; or
- the ACT Integrity Commission.
For a PID which relates to the Legislative Assembly, a DO is any of the following:
- the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly;
- the ACT Auditor-General; or
- the ACT Ombudsman.
Employees in the Public Sector who have information which is so serious that they cannot discuss it with someone within their entity should contact the ACT Integrity Commission. Contact details for the ACT Integrity Commission can be found on their website.
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).
For more information regarding what happens after making a disclosure please refer to the Public Interest Disclosure (Integrity Commission – Managing Disclosures and Conducting Investigations) Guidelines.
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, please contact the JACS Senior Executive Responsible for Business Integrity and Risk (SERBIR).
JACS SERBIR contact details
Naveen Wijemanne, Acting Executive Branch Manager
Governance and Business Improvement
Justice and Community Safety
Mail: GPO Box 158 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Telephone: (02) 6207 4813