Public Interest Disclosures
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2010 (the PID Act) aims to ensure that government is open and accountable by providing protection for those who speak out about wrongdoing or in other words, make a public interest disclosure (PID). Making a public interest disclosure is sometimes referred to as ‘whistleblowing'. Reporting suspected wrongdoing is vital to the integrity of the Queensland public sector.
What is Public Interest Disclosure?
A Public Interest Disclosure (PID) is a report of suspected wrongdoing or danger. For an allegation, to be considered a PID and attract the protections under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010, it must be:
- Public interest information about substantial and specific wrongdoing or danger
- An appropriate disclosure
- Made to the proper authority
What can a PID be about?
Any person, including public sector officers, may disclose information about:
- A substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of a person with a disability
- A substantial and specific danger to the environment (as set out in the PID Act)
- Reprisal action following a PID.
A public sector officer may also disclose information about:
- Corrupt conduct by another person
- Maladministration that adversely affects someone's interest in a substantial and specific way
- A substantial misuse of public resources
- A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
- A substantial and specific danger to the environment.
All disclosures must meet the subjective and objective tests set out in the PID Act. This means:
- the discloser honestly and reasonably believes the information provided tends to show the conduct or danger; or
- the information tends to show the conduct or danger regardless of the discloser’s belief.
What is a reprisal?
Reprisal occurs if a person causes or attempts to cause detriment to you because they believe you:
- Have made, or intend to make a PID; or
- Have participated in, or intends to participate in procedures under the PID Act.
Is Isaac Regional Council the proper authority for my PID?
Isaac Regional Council are authorised to receive a PID where:
- The disclosure is about the conduct of the Council or its employees; or
- Council is responsible for investigating a particular issue (e.g. the Crime and Corruption Commission can receive PIDs about Corrupt Conduct).
Does Isaac Regional Council have a policy regarding PIDs?
Isaac Regional Council has adopted a Policy and Procedure & Management Plan to ensure the appropriate handling of PIDs.
How do I make a PID?
A PID can be made orally or in writing.
- To make your PID in writing address your PID to the PID Coordinator (C/- of the Chief Executive Officer) and clearly mark the sealed envelope as Public Interest Disclosure - Private and Confidential.
- You can also phone Council on 1300 ISAACS (1300 47 22 27) and ask for the Senior Governance Officer, who is Council’s PID Coordinator.
- The PID Coordinator will assess your disclosure, and if it does not fit the criteria of a PID, it will be dealt with under the Council's complaints management process.
What if I want to make an anonymous PID?
You can make an anonymous PID. Remaining anonymous means you do not identify yourself as the discloser at any stage to anyone. However, anonymous PIDs are often more difficult to investigate. Council strongly encourages disclosers to identify themselves if possible.
If you do identify yourself to the person who receives your PID, Council shall make every effort to keep your identity confidential. Remember that Council will not be able to inform you of any action it takes if you remain anonymous.
Disclosures to other agencies
Alternatively, you can make your disclosure to the Queensland Ombudsman or a Member of Parliament if it concerns maladministration or a waste of public funds.
Level 18, 53 Albert Street, Brisbane
GPO Box 3314, Brisbane Qld 4001
Telephone: 07 3005 7000 Free call: 1800 068 908 (toll-free outside Brisbane)
Contact information and online options: http://www.ombudsman.qld.gov.au/about-us/contact-us
Crime and Corruption Commission
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Mail: GPO Box 3123, Brisbane, Qld 4001
In person: Level 2, North Tower Green Square, 515 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley
By Phone: (07) 3360 6060 Toll-free (in Queensland outside Brisbane): 1800 061 611
Website: http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au, http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/corruption/report-corruption/whistleblowers-and-public-interest-disclosures
Strict confidentiality requirements apply to PIDS. Confidential PID information can be recorded or disclosed:
- To administer the PID Act or to discharge a function under another Act (for example, to investigate something disclosed by a public interest disclosure)
- For a proceeding in a court tribunal
- With the consent of the person, the information relates to (or if the consent of the person cannot be reasonably obtained if the information is unlikely to harm the interests of the person) or
- If it is essential under the principles of natural justice and reprisal is unlikely.
What are my responsibilities as a disclosure?
When making a PID, you have a responsibility to:
- Provide honest and accurate information - deliberately providing false or misleading information is an offence;
- Provide all information currently in your possession - you must not seek to investigate the matter yourself; and
- Make the disclosure to someone you reasonably believe is the proper authority to receive the disclosure.
Those who make a PID will be afforded reasonable protection from reprisals.
- When a disclosure is made, the Council will assess the risk of reprisal and offer the discloser appropriate support. If the discloser has been involved in the wrongdoing they may be subject to criminal proceedings and disciplinary action.
- No protection is afforded to those who make disclosures to the media or via means not stated in the Act.
Where do I get more information?
- For more information refer to the Council's PID Policy and Procedure & Management Plan (PDF, 216KB).
- The Queensland Ombudsman is the oversight body of Public Sector agencies for PIDs and Fact sheets and information guidelines regarding PIDs and your rights and obligations under the PID Act are available from The Queensland Ombudsman.
- Visit the Queensland Government's website on the conduct and performance relating to ethics and other matters - https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/conduct-and-performance