Reporting improper conduct
The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 encourages and assists people in making disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, as well as any person who adversely affects the honest performance of a public officer or public body of their official functions.
The Act provides protection to people who make disclosures about improper conduct in the public sector without fear of reprisal. These disclosures are called 'protected disclosures'. Anyone can make a protected disclosure against the Commission. This includes employees and members of the public.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has responsibility for receiving and investigating disclosures. These procedures explain how to make a protected disclosure about the Commission to IBAC and how the Commission protects people who make protected disclosures.
The Commission does not tolerate improper conduct by employees, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct. It is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices and supports the making of disclosures that reveal corrupt conduct, conduct involving a substantial mismanagement of public resources, or conduct involving a substantial risk to public health and safety or the environment.
The Commission does not tolerate detrimental action against those who make, or co-operate with, protected disclosures about the Commission. The Commission will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure.
What is a Protected Disclosure?The Protected Disclosure Act creates a framework for dealing with protected disclosures and the people who make them. The purpose of the Protected Disclosure Act is to:
- encourage and assist people to make a disclosure of improper conduct and detrimental action by public officers, public bodies and certain private individuals.
- provide certain protections for people who make a disclosure, or those who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for a disclosure
- ensure that certain information about a disclosure is kept confidential – the identity of the person making the disclosure, and the content of that disclosure.
A protected disclosure is a report made by a person about improper conduct of public bodies or public officers performing public functions, and any person who adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer or public body of their official functions.
Improper conduct includes corrupt conduct, the dishonest performance of public functions, knowingly or recklessly breaching public trust, misuse of information or materials, substantial mismanagement of public resources or conduct involving substantial risk to public health or safety, or to the environment. It also includes the conduct of any person (private individual) that adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer or public body of their official functions.
A protected disclosure can also be made about detrimental action against a person by public bodies or public officers in reprisal for the making of a protected disclosure. Detrimental action includes action causing injury, loss or damage, intimidation, harassment, discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment. It includes actual action as well as the threat of action.
How to make a disclosure
Who can make a disclosure?
An individual or group of individuals. A disclosure cannot be made by a business or a company.
What can I make a disclosure about?
Improper conduct engaged in, and/or detrimental action taken by, public bodies or public officers performing public functions or certain individuals. This includes the Commission and/or its officers.
You may make a protected disclosure about information that shows or tends to show, or that you believe on reasonable grounds shows or tends to show:
- a person, public officer or public body;
- is engaging in, or proposing to engage in;
- 'improper conduct' and/or 'detrimental action' in reprisal for having made a protected disclosure.
The conduct you are disclosing must be the performance of a person or body's function as a public officer or public body or private individuals who try to improperly influence public officers or public bodies in the performance of their official functions.
Who can I make a disclosure to?
Under the Protected Disclosure Act, the Commission cannot receive disclosures about the Commission or its employees that alleges improper conduct or detrimental action. If you wish to make a protected disclosure about the Commission or any employee at the Commission, you must make the disclosure directly to Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC):
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins St, MELBOURNE VIC 3000
GPO Box 24234, MELBOURNE VIC 3001
Phone: 1300 735 135
Fax: (03) 8635 6444
IBAC can also be contacted through the National Relay Service (NRS).
- TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1300 735 135
- Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1300 735 135
- Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 1300 735 135.
How do I make a disclosure?
You may make a disclosure to IBAC:
- in person
- in writing (including by using IBACs complaint forms on their website)
- by telephone (including by leaving a voicemail message)
- by email.
You may make a disclosure anonymously.
You may not make a protected disclosure by fax.
The Commission is committed to ensuring the welfare of those who make or co-operate with protected disclosures. As the Commission cannot receive protected disclosures under the Protected Disclosure Act, the Commission may not be aware someone has made a protected disclosure about the Commission.
IBAC will only notify the Commission of a protected disclosure made about the Commission if it decides it is necessary. If IBAC does notify the Commission of the identity of a discloser, or someone cooperating with an investigation, such notifications are confidential and the Commission is responsible for providing that person with reasonable welfare support.
Where relevant, the Commission will consider appointing a welfare manager when a person has made a protected disclosure or is cooperating, or intending to cooperate, with an investigation of a protected disclosure.
A welfare manager is responsible for:
- considering the welfare and protection needs of the discloser and/or witness' and fostering a supportive work environment
- monitoring a specific discloser or co-operator
- providing practical advice and support
- advising the discloser and/or witness of the protections available under the Act
- receiving and responding to any disclosures of detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure (eg harassment, intimidation or victimisation)
- ensuring that the discloser and/or witness' expectations of the process and outcomes are realistic; and
- maintaining confidentiality.
In determining whether to appoint a welfare manager in any particular case, the Commission will consider:
- whether the disclosure has proceeded, or is likely to proceed, to an investigation
- whether there are any real risks of detrimental action against the persons involved, taking into account their particular circumstances
- whether the Commission can ensure that the person is taken seriously and treated with respect
- whether the Commission can provide effective support to the persons involved, including keeping them informed of the progress of the disclosure, and
- whether it is within the Commission's power to protect the person/s involved from suffering repercussions.
There are a number of offences set out in the Protected Disclosure Act relating to breaches of the requirements of the Act. The key offences to be aware of are:
- It is an offence to take or threaten detrimental action against another person in reprisal for a protected disclosure.
- It is an offence to disclose the content, or information about the content, of a disclosure that has been notified to IBAC or information which is likely to lead to the identification of the person who made that disclosure unless permitted to by the Act
- It is an offence for any person to:
- provide false or misleading information, or further information that relates to a protected disclosure, that the person knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, intending that the information be acted on as a protected disclosure
- claim that a matter is the subject of a protected disclosure knowing the claim to be false, and
- falsely claim that a matter is the subject of a disclosure that IBAC or the Victorian Inspectorate has determined to be a protected disclosure complaint.
- It is an offence for any person to:
- disclose that a disclosure has been notified to IBAC for assessment unless permitted to do so by the Act, and
- disclose that a disclosure has been determined by IBAC or the Victorian Inspectorate to be a protected disclosure complaint unless permitted to do so by the Act.
Alternatives to making a 'protected disclosure'
Although the Commission cannot receive disclosures, the Commission can still receive complaints about its services. More information on how to make a complaint is available under Our service standards.
Employees are encouraged to raise matters with their supervisors and managers at any time.
Co-operation with IBAC
The Commission co-operates with IBAC. This includes facilitating any review of these procedures by IBAC; responding – where required – to recommendations made by IBAC; and providing assistance to IBAC or any other external investigations.
The Commission must provide information about how to access these procedures in its annual report.
These procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure they meet the objectives of the Protected Disclosure Act and are consistent with IBAC's guidelines.