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Public Interest Disclosures

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) which commences on 15 January 2014 promotes integrity and accountability in the Australian public sector by encouraging the disclosure of information about suspected wrongdoing, protecting people who make disclosures and requiring agencies to take action.

The purpose of the Act is to promote the integrity and accountability of the Commonwealth public sector by:

  • encouraging and facilitating the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector
  • ensuring that public officials who make public interest disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences
  • ensuring that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.

Who can make a disclosure under the PID Act?

To make a disclosure under the PID Act a person must be a current or former ‘public official’. This broad term includes Australian Government public servants and parliamentary service employees, members of the Defence Force, staff and directors of Commonwealth companies, statutory office holders and staff of Commonwealth contracted service providers. A person may also be deemed by an authorised officer to be a public official.

What type of wrongdoing can be reported?

A public official can disclose information that they believe on reasonable grounds tends to show ‘disclosable conduct’. This means conduct by an agency, a public official or a contracted Commonwealth service provider, in connection with the Commonwealth contract, that:

  • contravenes a law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • results in wastage of public funds or property
  • is an abuse of public trust
  • unreasonably endangers health and safety
  • or endangers the environment
  • is misconduct relating to scientific research
  • analysis or advice
  • is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent.

Protection of Disclosers

The identity of a person who makes a disclosure will be kept confidential as far as practicable. It is an offence to provide identifying information about a person who makes a disclosure without their consent unless authorised by the PID Act. They also have immunity from civil, criminal and administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure. It is a criminal offence to take or threaten to take a reprisal, such as discriminatory treatment, termination of employment or injury, against someone because they make a disclosure.

To gain the protections of the PID Act, a public official must comply with the Act. This means that if they disclose wrongdoing to someone who is not authorised to receive it, their disclosure will not be covered.

How to make a Public Interest Disclosure to Comcare

The following Comcare officers are Authorised Officers for the purpose of receiving Public Interest Disclosures:

  • Director, Finance and Assurance
  • Executive Officer to the CEO

Disclosure may be lodged orally or in writing, and the Discloser can remain anonymous. Any disclosures lodged in writing must be forwarded in a sealed envelope clearly marked “for addressee only”.

Further information on the administration of the PID Act within Comcare, including the lodgement of disclosures, may be obtained from the Executive Officer to the CEO, who may be contacted on 02 6276 0378.

Page last updated: 05 Jun 2018