From 10 February 2013, the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 was replaced with the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.
This reform included the creation of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). IBAC’s role is to reinforce integrity and accountability across the Victorian public sector.
Most recently, the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 was expanded, and rebranded to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012. The major changes to the act include an expansion of the definition of “improper conduct” and the inclusion of additional investigative bodies who can investigate improper conduct.
What is a Public Interest Disclosure?
A Public Interest Disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper behavior by a public officer or organisation.
What is the Public Interest Disclosure Act?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 lets people expose improper conduct within the public sector without fear of retaliation. By encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do, the Act promotes openness and accountability.
How does Swan Hill Rural City Council treat Public Interest Disclosures?
Council does not tolerate corrupt or improper conduct by its employees, officers or members. It also does not tolerate retaliation against those who come forward to expose such behavior.
Employees and members of the public are encouraged to report known or suspected corrupt or improper conduct.
Council will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make disclosures without the fear of retaliation.
Council will also provide natural justice to the person who is the subject of the disclosure.
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:
- In writing
Public Interest Disclosures may relate to corrupt or improper conduct by:
- The organisation
- Employees of Council
- Member of a special committee of Council
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 should be made to the Public Interest Disclosures Co-ordinator:
Public Interest Disclosure Co-ordinator
Swan Hill Rural City Council
PO BOX 488
Swan Hill Vic 3585
Phone: (03) 5036 2315
Mobile: 0408 563 250
Disclosures can also be made directly to IBAC.
Public Interest Disclosures regarding Councillors must be made to IBAC or the Victorian Ombudsman.
GPO Box 24234
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Phone: 1300 735 135
Level 2, 570 Bourke Street
Melbourne Victoria 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.
Employees are encouraged to raise matters at any time with their supervisors.