Public Interest Disclosures

Making a public interest disclosure

If you wish to report wrongdoing by public bodies or public officers within the Victorian Public Sector (VPS), you may wish to make a public interest disclosure (PID) under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (PID Act).

The PID Act provides a legal framework for making a public interest disclosure and encourages the reporting of wrongdoing by providing a number of legal protections against reprisals for making a PID, like bullying, harassment or legal action.

The PID Act also provides a framework for protecting the confidentiality of your disclosure and your identity, to further protect you from potential reprisals for making a PID.

Reporting wrongdoing is important in maintaining the integrity of the VPS as it enables corruption and other types of wrongdoing to be identified, investigated and, where possible, rectified and prevented.

Please note:  The PID Act was previously called the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act), please see Reforms to the whistleblowing scheme for more information.

 

Who can make a public interest disclosure?

Any person or group of people can make a PID. They can be an employee of a public body, a contractor or tenderer, a client or a member of the public.

A company or business cannot make a PID, but its officers or employees can.

What wrongdoing can you report?

You may make a public interest disclosure about:

  • 'improper conduct' by a public body, public officer or person
  • 'detrimental action' taken by a public body or public officer against a person in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure

What public interest disclosures can the VI receive?

The VI may receive a public interest disclosure about the following entities:

  • IBAC or an IBAC officer
  • a Public Interest Monitor
  • a Victorian Ombudsman (VO) officer
  • a Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) officer
  • the Chief Examiner or an Examiner appointed under section 21 of the Major Crime (Investigative Powers) Act 2004
  • a Judicial Commission officer, other than a judicial member of the Board of the Judicial Commission
  • a Council or a member of Council staff
  • any other Victorian public officer or Victorian public body, unless required to be made to another entity under section 14 or 17 of the PID Act

The VI cannot receive public interest disclosures about:

  • the VI or a VI officer
  • members of Parliament
  • the Office of the Special Investigations Monitor
  • the Special Investigations Monitor
  • a court
  • an investigating panel
  • a member of an investigating panel

How to make a public interest disclosure to the VI?

You may make your public interest disclosure to the VI either orally or in writing.

You may also make your public interest disclosure anonymously, however this may impact on the ability to seek further information from you and the ability to update you about the progress of your disclosure.

To submit a public interest disclosure to the VI, please complete the form below:

Submit a public interest disclosure

Alternatively, you may submit your public interest disclosure by  completing the PID form below and e-mailing it or posting it to  the VI. The VI’s postal and e-mail address is provided below:

Public Interest Disclosure form.pdf Public Interest Disclosure form.pdfPDF (1011.75 KB) Victorian Inspectorate
PO Box 617
Collins Street West 8007

Email: info@vicinspectorate.vic.gov.au

If you wish to make your disclosure to the VI in person, please contact the VI on 03 8614 3232.

Need help? 

If you need help filling out the PID form, or have any concerns about how the VI has handled your disclosure, please see the More information section below. You can also phone us on 03 8614 3232

If you have difficulty speaking English, you may seek help from the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.

 

More information

Reforms to the whistleblowing scheme

On 31 December 2019, the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act) was amended to make Victoria’s public sector whistleblowing scheme more accessible, to encourage reporting of public sector corruption and wrongdoing.

Part of these reforms included the PD Act being renamed the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (PID Act).

Other key reforms included: 

  • Adopting the terms 'public interest disclosure'  and 'public interest complaint' in place of 'protected disclosure' and 'protected disclosure complaint.'
  • Clarifying, simplifying and increasing the pathways for making a public interest disclosure. 
  • Expanding and clarifying the types of public sector improper conduct that a person can disclose in a public interest disclosure. 
  • Simplifying the requirements for making a public interest disclosure about detrimental action in reprisal for a public interest disclosure.
  • Protecting public interest disclosures made to persons and bodies outside of the integrity system (i.e. external disclosures) in limited circumstances.
  • Simplifying confidentiality obligations that apply to people who make and handle public interest disclosures, including to allow access to support services. 

Protecting disclosers from legal costs in the event that they are unsuccessful in a claim for compensation under the PID Act.

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Who can make a  public interest disclosure?

Any person or group of people can make a PID. They can be an employee of a public body, a contractor or tenderer, a client or a member of the public.

A company or business cannot make a PID, but its officers or employees can.

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What wrongdoing can you report?

You may make a public interest disclosure about:

  • 'improper conduct' by a public body, public officer or person
  • 'detrimental action' taken by a public body or public officer against a person in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure.

'Improper conduct' includes:

  • corrupt conduct
  • conduct that would constitute a criminal offence
  • serious professional misconduct
  • dishonest performance of public functions
  • intentional or reckless breach of public trust
  • intentional or reckless misuse of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of the functions of the public officer or public body
  • a substantial mismanagement of public resources
  • a substantial risk to the health or safety of one or more persons;
  • a substantial risk to the environment
  • conduct of any person that adversely affects the honest performance of a public body or public officer or that is intended to adversely affect the effective performance of a public body or public officer for a specified benefit, or conduct that constitutes a conspiracy or attempt to engage in improper conduct
  • please note: 'improper conduct' does not include conduct which is trivial

'Detrimental action' includes:

  • action causing injury, loss or damage
  • intimidation or harassment
  • discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person’s employment, career, profession, trade or business, including the taking of disciplinary action
  • inciting or permitting someone else to take the above action

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Who can a public interest disclosure be made about?

A public interest disclosure may be made about:

Public bodies, including:

  • public sector bodies (including public service bodies, public entities and special bodies)
  • incorporated or unincorporated bodies established under an Act for a public purpose, including universities
  • the Electoral Boundaries Commission
  • a council (established under the Local Government Act 1989)
  • a body performing a public function on behalf of the State or a public body or public officer (for example, a regulatory function or a function that  publically funded)
  • a body performing a public function on behalf of the State or a public body or public officer (for example, a regulatory function or a function that is publicly funded)

Public officers, including:

  • public servants, including VI and IBAC officers
  • local government Councillors and council employees
  • university employees and teachers
  • Victoria Police personnel
  • Members of Parliament, including Ministers
  • ministerial officers, parliamentary advisers and officers, electorate officers
  • judicial officers, including coroners, members of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), associate judges, judicial registrars
  • statutory office holders, including the Auditor-General and the Victorian Ombudsman, and the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor or Administrator of the State

The conduct of any person:

  • that adversely affects the honest performance of a public body or public officer
  • who intends to adversely affect the effective performance of a public body or public officer and results in that person or an associate of the person obtaining a specified benefit, or
  • who attempts to engage or conspire in improper conduct

A public interest disclosure cannot be made about:

  • the Office of the Special Investigations Monitor
  • the Special Investigations Monitor
  • a court
  • an investigating panel
  • a member of an investigating panel

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Who can a public interest disclosure be made to?

The table below provides details of who you may make your disclosure to.

Subject of the disclosure Report to
  • Chief Commissioner of Police
  • Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Chief Crown Prosecutor
  • Solicitor General
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor or Administrator
  • Director, Police Integrity
  • Electoral Commissioner
  • Commissioner appointed under the Inquiries Act 2014
  • A member of a Board of Inquiry
  • A judicial officer
  • A judicial employee
  • A Ministerial officer
  • A Parliamentary adviser
  • An electorate officer
  • A Parliamentary officer
  • Minister of the Crown who is not a member of Parliament

IBAC

Phone: 1300 735 135

Email:  info@ibac.vic.gov.au

(www.ibac.vic.gov.au)
  • A Councillor
  • The Information Commissioner
  • Health Complaints Commissioner

IBAC or the Victorian Ombudsman

  • The Chief Examiner or an Examiner appointed under section 21 of the Major Crime (Investigative Powers) Act 2004
  • A Victorian Ombudsman officer
  • A Victorian Auditor-General’s Office officer
  • A Judicial Commission officer (other than a judicial member of the Board of the Judicial Commission)
IBAC or the Victorian Inspectorate
  • A member of police personnel (other than the Chief Commissioner)
IBAC or a prescribed member of police personnel
  • Member of Parliament (Legislative Council)
President of the Legislative Council
  • Member of Parliament (Legislative Assembly)
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
  • IBAC
  • An IBAC officer
  • A Public Interest Monitor
Victorian Inspectorate
  • The Victorian Inspectorate or a Victorian Inspectorate Officer
Integrity and Oversight Committee, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or the President of the Legislative Council
  • Judicial officer or a member of VCAT who is not a judicial officer
IBAC or the Judicial Commission

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Organisations that can receive public interest disclosures

Organisation

Officers who can receive disclosures

IBAC

  • The Commissioner
  • A Deputy Commissioner
  • The Chief Executive Officer
  • An IBAC officer

Victorian Ombudsman

  • The Victorian Ombudsman

  • A Victorian Ombudsman officer

Victorian Inspectorate

  • The Inspector

  • A Victorian Inspectorate officer

Victoria Police

  • A member of Victoria Police personnel with a rank, including an acting rank, of sergeant or above

  • In the case of a disclosure made by a person who is a member of Victoria Police personnel – a direct or indirect manager or supervisor of that person

Public service body

Public service bodies can only receive disclosures that relate to the conduct of themselves, or disclosures made by their own members, officers or employees. Disclosures about public sector bodies can also be made to IBAC, or to the Victorian Ombudsman or the Victorian Inspectorate.

  • Head of the relevant public service body
  • A person defined in the public service body’s procedures as a person who can receive a disclosure about that body, e.g. a Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator
  • Manager or supervisor of the discloser
  • Manager or supervisor of the person who is the subject of the disclosure
   

A Council

All councils can receive disclosures that relate to the conduct of themselves, or disclosures made by their own members, officers or employees. Disclosures about councils can also be made to IBAC, or to the Victorian Ombudsman or the Victorian Inspectorate.

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • A person identified in the council’s procedures as a person who can receive a disclosure about that council, e.g. Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator
  • Manager or supervisor of the discloser
  • Manager or supervisor of the person who is the subject of the disclosure

The Judicial Commission of Victoria

The Director of the Judicial Commission of Victoria

The Integrity and Oversight Committee (IOC)

A member of the Integrity and Oversight Committee

Please note: If you make a disclosure to an agency that isn’t authorised to receive a public interest disclosure, you will not be entitled to the legal protections that the PID Act provides for making a public interest disclosure. 

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Legal protections that you will receive for making a public interest disclosure

You will receive the following legal protections for making a public interest disclosure:

  • protection from detrimental action taken or proposed to be taken against you or another person in reprisal for making a public interest disclosure, including (where possible) the opportunity to request a transfer of employment
  • protection from committing an offence or for breaching any confidentiality obligations you might have  with respect to the information you have provided within your public interest disclosure
  • protection from civil or criminal liability or an action of defamation for making a public interest disclosure

It is important to note that you are still liable for any of your own conduct that you have disclosed.

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Limits on protections

A number of the protections in the PID Act do not apply if a discloser:

  • knowingly provides false or misleading information
  • claims that a matter is the subject of a public interest disclosure knowing the claim to be false

The PID Act also specifically states that a person is still liable for their own conduct even if they disclose that conduct.

Additionally, a person who makes a disclosure is not protected against legitimate management action being taken in relation to them. Management action will not be legitimate if it is taken or proposed to be taken in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure.

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Confidentiality requirements

The PID Act imposes a number of confidentiality requirements in relation to the receipt and handling of assessable disclosures in an attempt to minimise the risks of reprisal for making a public interest disclosure.

Breaching these confidentiality restrictions, without lawful excuse, is an offence.

The confidentiality restrictions and their exceptions are set out in section 52, 53 and 54 of the PID Act.

The 2 main confidentiality restrictions are:

 

1. The content of a public interest disclosure must be kept confidential 

The PID Act prohibits the disclosure of the content, or information about the content, of any disclosure that has been assessed as a public interest disclosure. 

This confidentiality restriction applies to a person or body that receives a public interest disclosure, or that is provided with information about a public interest disclosure by an investigating entity who is assessing or investigating the disclosure.. 

This restriction does not apply to the discloser. 

 

2. The identity of a person making a public interest disclosure must be kept confidential

The PID Act prohibits the disclosure of information that would be likely to lead to the identification of a person who has made a public interest disclosure. 

This restriction applies to any person or body, other than the discloser.  

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Exceptions to confidentiality requirements

The above confidentiality restrictions/requirements do not apply where:

  • a person or body discloses the confidential information for the purposes of exercising its functions under the PID Act 
  • the confidential information is disclosed by an investigating entity for the purpose of the exercise of functions under the Act that authorises that investigating entity to investigate the public interest disclosure 
  • IBAC, the Victorian Inspectorate or the Integrity and Oversight Committee determines that the disclosure is not a public interest complaint
  • the disclosure of confidential information is made by an investigating entity to Victoria Police where relevant to a Victoria Police investigation of criminal conduct 
  • the disclosure of confidential information is for the purpose of a proceeding  for an offence or a disciplinary process under a relevant Act
  • the disclosure of confidential information is necessary for the discloser to obtain legal advice or representation, interpretive services, the advice of a parent or guardian (for disclosers under 18 years), the advice of an independent person (for disclosers who are illiterate or have mental or physical impairments)
  • the disclosure of confidential information is  for the purpose of assisting  the discloser to seek advice or support from a registered health practitioner or trade union or employee assistance program
  • the disclosure of the confidential information is to WorkCover for a workers compensation claim or for an application to the Fair Work Commission
  • the content, or information about the content of a public interest disclosure is disclosed in accordance with a direction or authorisation from the investigating entity that is investigating the public interest disclosure  after it has been determined to be a public interest complaint
  • the content, or information about the content of a public interest disclosure is disclosed for the purpose of taking lawful action (including a disciplinary process) in relation to the conduct that is subject of the disclosure
  • the discloser gives prior written consent to disclose information that would be likely to lead to their identification as the person who made the public interest disclosure

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Offences

There are a number of offences (including criminal offences) for breaching obligations under the PID Act. In order to ensure that you comply with the PID Act and other laws, it is important that you are aware of your legal obligations under the PID Act. 

Offence to make false disclosure 

Under section 72 of the PD Act, it is a criminal offence to provide information that you know is false or misleading with the intention that the information be acted on as a public interest disclosure. 
An offence under this section carries a fine of up to 120 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment, or both. 

Offence to make false claims 

It is an offence under section 73 of the PID Act to claim that a matter is the subject of a public interest disclosure or has been determined by IBAC, the VI or the Integrity and Oversight Committee to be public interest complaint when you know that claim is false. 

An offence under this section carries a fine of up to 120 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment, or both.

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Opting-out of making a public interest disclosure

Under section 19 of the PID Act, you may avoid your public interest disclosure being or continuing to be considered and treated as a PID under the PID Act, by stating in writing that your disclosure is not a public interest disclosure (PID) and providing this statement to the entity that you made your disclosure to, no later than 28 days after making your disclosure.