Public interest disclosures
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (the PID Act) encourages and facilitates disclosures of:
- improper conduct by public officers, public bodies and other persons including Council, Council officers and Councillors
- detrimental action taken against a person for making a disclosure under the PID Act.
Along with the PID Act, we are guided by our Public Interest Disclosures Policy and Procedure.
What is a public interest disclosure?
A public interest disclosure is a complaint or allegation that has been made by a person that tends to show:
- improper conduct of public bodies or public officers (such as corrupt conduct)
- detrimental action that a public officer or public body has taken against a person in reprisal for them (or another person) having made an earlier public interest disclosure or cooperated with the investigation of a public interest disclosure.
A person making a disclosure must believe, on reasonable grounds that the Councillor or Council officer has engaged in, or proposes to engage in, corrupt or improper conduct. The conduct must be serious enough to constitute a criminal offence or reasonable grounds for dismissal.
Please note: complaints against Councillors cannot be investigated by Council and must be made directly to either the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission or the Victorian Ombudsman.
According to the PID Act, corrupt or improper conduct means:
- criminal offence
- serious professional misconduct
- dishonest performance of public functions
- intentional or reckless breach of public trust
- an intentional or reckless misuse of information
- an intentional or reckless misuse of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of public functions
- a substantial mismanagement of public resources
- a substantial risk to health or safety of a person
- a substantial risk to the environment
- conduct by a third party that adversely affects the honest performance of a public officer or public body or is intended to adversely affect effective performance of a public officer or public body while obtaining an advantage for the third party
- conduct by a third party that could constitute a conspiracy or attempt to engage in any of the above.
It can include:
- taking or offering bribes
- dishonestly using influence
- committing fraud, theft or embezzlement
- misusing information or material acquired at work
- conspiring or attempting to engage in the above corrupt activity.
How do you make a public interest disclosure?
Disclosures about Councillors must be made directly to:
Disclosures about Council officers can also be made to IBAC, or to Council's Public Interest Disclosures Coordinator.
Disclosures can be made:
- verbally—in person or over the phone
- in writing
- anonymously by email, phone call, or private face-to-face meeting
- by an individual or a group of individuals.
We can only address disclosures that relate to our organisation and our staff. We will not tolerate corrupt or improper behaviour and will take all reasonable steps to protect those who come forward to disclose such behaviour from possible reprisals. Natural justice will also be given to the subject of the disclosure.
Our Annual Report contains any disclosures that Council may have received in the previous financial year.
What happens after a public interest disclosure has been made?
Having received a public interest disclosure, the Public Interest Disclosures Coordinator will:
- assess disclosures in accordance with the PID Act
- redirect the person making the report to our complaints handling process or seek information, if the report is unsubstantiated
- notify all assessable disclosures to IBAC within 28 days after receiving them
- ensure all information remains confidential
- ensure the welfare of a discloser is considered, and inform them what protections are available under the PID Act.
Once it is determined that a complaint is a public interest disclosure, we will investigate the matter. We will keep the complainant informed of all actions taken and any time frames that may apply.
Public interest disclosure procedures are designed to complement normal methods of submitting complaints to us, and to support existing communication channels between supervisors and employees.
For further information on the new legislation or any other matters relating to public interest disclosure, please refer to the IBAC Guidelines.