Public interest disclosures

If you have a complaint to make about improper conduct by a public official or a Victorian authority, including local councils, you are protected by law. Victoria's Public Interest Disclosures Act (2012), formerly known as the Protected Disclosure Act, ensures that people who make a complaint (disclosure) about improper conduct and corruption in the Victorian public sector, can do so knowing that you will be protected.

Protections include keeping their identity confidential and protecting them from reprisals including bullying, harassment or legal action.

What is a Public Interest Disclosure?

A public interest disclosure is a complaint by a person about improper conduct by a public officer or body.

Improper conduct must be either criminal conduct or other conduct specified under the Act. Examples include:

  • serious professional misconduct
  • intentional or reckless breach of public trust
  • conduct adversely affecting the honest performance of a public officer

Detrimental action is an offence under the Act and includes harassment or discrimination, or other adverse action taken against the discloser in reprisal for having reported the alleged improper conduct.

People seeking protection under the Act should carefully consider whether their complaint meets these basic thresholds before reporting. 

How does Swan Hill Rural City Council protect those who make a Public Interest Disclosure?

All correspondence, phone calls and emails from persons making disclosures are referred to the Public Interest Disclosure Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator will take the necessary steps to ensure:

  • The identity of the person making a Public Interest Disclosure is kept confidential.
  • The identity of the person subject to the disclosure remains confidential.

Where necessary, the Public Interest Disclosure Co-ordinator will arrange suitable welfare support for the person making a Public Interest Disclosure.

What if I want to make a Public Interest Disclosure?

Public Interest Disclosures can be made by employees or members of the public. Part 2 of the Act says a person may make a disclosure:

  • Orally
  • In writing
  • Electronically
  • Anonymously

Public Interest Disclosures may relate to corrupt or improper conduct by:

  • The organisation
  • Employees of Council
  • Member of a special committee of Council
  • Councillors

Council can only address disclosures that relate to Swan Hill Rural City Council. Public Interest Disclosures about Councillors must be addressed by IBAC or the Ombudsman.

Who do I Contact?

Disclosures relating to Council

ATTN: Public Interest Disclosure Co-ordinator
Anthony Duffin
Swan Hill Rural City Council
PO BOX 488
Swan Hill, VIC 3585

Phone: 03 5036 2315

Alternative contacts

Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
GPO Box 24234, Melbourne VIC 3001
Phone: 1300 735 135

Victorian Ombudsman
Level 2 570 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 1800 806 314

What happens next?

When a complaint is determined to be a Public Interest Disclosure, Council will investigate to determine if it is an Assessable Disclosure. IBAC must be notified of an Assessable Disclosure. The person making the complaint will be kept informed of any action taken and the timeframes.

Alternatives to making Public Interest Disclosure

These procedures complement everyday ways of submitting complaints to Council and communication between supervisors and employees. Members of the public are encouraged to contact Council with any complaints or concerns about Council or Council employees. Do not the 'Make a complaint' facility for the making of a Public Interest Disclosure.

Make a complaint

Employees are encouraged to raise matters at any time with their supervisors.