Public Interest Disclosure
What’s a Public Interest Disclosure?
A Public Interest Disclosure is not merely a general dissatisfaction or personal grievance. It’s a serious complaint about a public body.
It highlights the wrongdoing by a public body, while performing its public function. Importantly, the wrongdoing has the potential to negatively impact the general public.
Who can make a Disclosure?
Anyone can make a disclosure, including any member of the public and an employee of a public body.
What’s a Public Body?
Public bodies generally fall into three categories:
- A Public Authority:
- State government;
- Local government;
- Regional local government;
- Public universities.
- A Public Officer:
- A state public service officer;
- An employee of a public authority;
- A minister;
- A Member of Parliament;
- A judicial officer;
- A police officer;
- A holder of office under the State;
- An Officer of the Commonwealth working for the State.
- A Public Sector contractor:
- A person, organisation or a subcontractor of a person or organisation, engaged by a public body, to provide goods and services or perform a public function;
What’s a Public Function?
A public function is a service, responsibility or duty that is provided to the public by a public body for the benefit of and use by the public.
What is a Wrongdoing?
A wrongdoing includes any of the following:
- An offence under State Law;
- Conduct relating to state and/or local government matters that affect you;
- Substantial mismanagement of public resources;
- Substantial unauthorised or irregular use of public resources;
- Substantial and specific risk of injury to public health, prejudice to public safety or harm to the environment;
- Improper conduct (see below).
Improper conduct usually refers to the breaching of the standards of conduct that a person would generally expect of a person or public body.
Lodging a Public Interest Disclosure
If you’d like to lodge a disclosure, you should contact the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Officer at the relevant authority. The PID Officer will advise you on:
- How to make the Disclosure;
- Who you should disclose to;
- Your rights and responsibilities;
- The protections that will apply; and
- Whether the information you have is covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (the Act).
You will then be given a PID Lodgement Form to sign. It’s important that you don’t discuss your disclosure with anyone other than the PID Officer or the person conducting the investigation. Otherwise, you could lose your immunity and possibly incur a fine.
If your information is not covered by the Act, you can make your disclosure to the public authority concerned using either:
- its grievance process (for current or past employees of the public body); or
- its complaints management process (for members of the public).