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Public Interest Disclosures

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) which commenced on 15 January 2014 and Public Interest Disclosure Standard 2013 which commenced on 11 July 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 investigate and take action.

The purpose of the Act is to:

  • promote the integrity and accountability of the Commonwealth public sector
  • encourage and facilitate the making of a public disclosure by public officials
  • ensure that public officials who make public interest disclosures are supported and are protected from adverse consequences relating to the disclosures; and
  • ensure 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 includes but is not limited to conduct 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.

What information should I provide

Consider covering the following:

  • your name and contact details (although you can make an anonymous disclosure)
  • the nature of the wrongdoing
  • who you think committed the wrongdoing
  • when and where the wrongdoing occurred
  • relevant events surrounding the issue
  • if you did anything in response to the wrongdoing
  • others who know about the wrongdoing and have allowed it to continue
  • names of any people who witnessed the conduct or who may be able to verify what you are saying
  • whether you believe your information is a public interest disclosure under the PID Act (you do not have to describe it that way for it to be treated as a public interest disclosure, but it will assist the agency if you do)
  • if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making your disclosure
  • Any other information that may assists Comcare to determine how to proceed.

Be clear and factual. If you have any documentation in support, consider providing copies.

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.

Loss of protection

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 may not be covered.

How to make a Public Interest Disclosure to Comcare

Disclosure may be made orally or in writing, and the Discloser can remain anonymous. Comcare’s preference is that disclosures be sent by email.

To make a Public Disclosure in writing:

By email

By post

  • Any disclosures lodged by post must be forwarded in a sealed envelope clearly marked
    • 'Confidential for addressee only';
    • 'To the attention of the Director, Statutory Oversight Team'
    • GPO Box 9905, Canberra ACT 2601

To make a Public Disclosure by phone, please call:

  • Director, Statutory Oversight Team – (02) 6276 0882

Public Interest Disclosure Scheme

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has the responsibility for administering the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme across all Commonwealth agencies. Please refer to Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website.

For further information and Guide to making a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.

Further information on the administration of the PID Act within Comcare, including the lodgement of disclosures, may be obtained from the Director, Statutory Oversight Team.

Page last updated: 02 Apr 2019