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Public Interest Disclosures

Reporting Improper or Corrupt Conduct: Making a Public Interest Disclosure



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A Public Interest Disclosure about improper conduct or detrimental action by DPIPWE or its employees, may be made by current State Service employees, or by a contractor or former contractors who have (or have had) a contract with DPIPWE for the supply of goods and services.
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About the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002
What is a Public Interest Disclosure?
Who can Make a Public Interest Disclosure?
Protecting Those who Make a Public Interest Disclosure
How to Make a Public Interest Disclosure
Public Interest Disclosures Lodgement Form



Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002

You may have heard of this Act referred to in the media as the new Whistleblower Legislation.

The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002 came into effect on 1 January 2003. (See the Tasmanian Legislation websiteYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement or the link from the Tasmanian Ombudsman websiteYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement to view the Act.)

The purpose of the Act is “to encourage and facilitate disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, to protect persons making those disclosures and others from reprisals, to provide for the matters disclosed to be properly investigated and dealt with and for other purposes”.

The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) recognises the value of transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices, and is committed to the aims and objectives of the Act.

DPIPWE 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. It does not tolerate improper conduct by its employees.

The Department will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make disclosures about the improper conduct of others. It is committed to protecting those who makes disclosures from any reprisals.

It will also afford natural justice to the person who is the subject of any disclosure and will give full support to a person who is the subject of a disclosure where the allegations are clearly wrong or unsubstantiated.

DPIPWE has implemented procedures that comply with the Act’s guidelines:


What is a Public Interest Disclosure?

A Public Interest Disclosure can be made on the grounds of:


1. Improper conduct; and
2. Corrupt conduct.

1. Improper conduct means conduct that is:The conduct must be serious enough to constitute, if proved, a criminal offence or reasonable grounds for dismissal.

Examples include:2. Corrupt conduct means:Examples include:


Protecting Those Who Make a Public Interest Disclosure

The Act makes it an offence for a person to take detrimental action against a person in reprisal for a protected disclosure (s.19).


Detrimental action includes:Examples include:

Who can Make a Public Interest Disclosure?

Public Interest Disclosures may only be made by current State Service employees, or by a contractor or former contractors who have (or have had) a contract with DPIPWE for the supply of goods and services.



How to Make a Public Interest Disclosure

Option 1
A disclosure about improper conduct or detrimental action by DPIPWE or its employees, may be made directly to the Ombudsman:

The Ombudsman
99 Bathurst Street
Hobart Tasmania 7000

Internet: www.ombudsman.tas.gov.auYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.tas.gov.au

Telephone: (03) 6233 6217
Toll Free: 1800 001 170Go to top of page

Option 2
Disclosures of improper conduct or detrimental action by employees of DPIPWE may also be made to:

(1) Deputy Secretary (Corporate Services & Primary Industries) DPIPWE
(2) The Protected Disclosure Coordinator, (the Manager of Human Resources Management (HRM)) DPIPWE
(Address for both: GPO Box 44, Hobart, TAS 7001.)
Telephone 1300 368 550 (toll free in Australia)

Any person wishing to report improper or corrupt conduct or any detrimental action should fill out a Public Interest Disclosure Lodgement Form and forward the completed form to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator (the Manager HRM). You should be aware that all correspondence, phone calls and e-mails from internal or external disclosers will be referred to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator in the first instance.

Where a person is contemplating making a disclosure and is concerned about approaching the Protected Disclosure Coordinator, in the workplace, they can contact the Protected Disclosure Coordinator and request a meeting in a discreet location away from the workplace.

Alternative Contact Persons
The following table sets out alternate persons to whom disclosures may be made.

Person/Body who is the subject of the disclosurePerson/Body to whom the disclosure must be made
Member, officer or employee of a public body (other than the police force)That public body, or
State Service Commissioner (if applicable) or
The Ombudsman
Public bodyThe Ombudsman
Member of the police forceThe Commissioner of Police
The Commissioner of PoliceThe Ombudsman
Member of Parliament (Legislative Council)President of the Legislative Council
Member of Parliament (House of Assembly)Speaker of the House of Assembly
CouncillorThe Ombudsman
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Confidentiality

The Act requires any person who receives information due to the handling or investigation of a protected disclosure, not to disclose that information except in certain limited circumstances (s.23 of the Act). Disclosure of information in breach of s.23 constitutes an offence that is punishable by a maximum fine of 60 penalty units ($6000) or six months imprisonment or both.

The circumstances in which a person may disclose information obtained about a protected disclosure include:However, the Act prohibits the inclusion of particulars in any report or recommendation that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser. The Act also prohibits the identification of the person who is the subject of the disclosure in any particulars included in the annual report.

DPIPWE will ensure all files, whether paper or electronic, are kept securely and can only be accessed by those involved in managing or investigating the protected disclosure. All materials relevant to an investigation, such as tapes from interviews, will also be stored securely with the files and all phone calls and meetings will be conducted in private.

Keeping the discloser informed
The Protected Disclosure Coordinator will ensure that the discloser is kept informed of action taken in relation to his or her disclosure, and the time frames that apply. If the disclosure leads to a formal investigation, the discloser will be informed of the objectives of the investigation, the findings of the investigation, and the steps taken by the Department to address any improper conduct that has been found to have occurred.

The discloser will be given reasons for decisions made by the Department in relation to a protected disclosure, and all communication with the discloser will be in plain English.
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Management of the person against whom the disclosure has been made
DPIPWE recognises that employees against whom disclosures are made must also be supported during the handling and investigation of disclosures. DPIPWE will take all reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of the person who is the subject of the disclosure during the assessment and investigation process. Where investigations do not substantiate disclosures, the fact that the investigation has been carried out, the results of the investigation, and the identity of the person who is the subject of the disclosure will remain confidential.

The Protected Disclosure Coordinator will ensure the person who is the subject of any disclosure investigation is:Their defence will be set out fairly in any report.

Where the allegations in a disclosure have been investigated, and the person who is the subject of the disclosure is aware of the allegations or the fact of the investigation, the Protected Disclosure Coordinator will formally advise this person of the outcome of the investigation.

DPIPWE will give its full support to a person who is the subject of a disclosure where the allegations contained in a disclosure are clearly wrong or unsubstantiated. If the matter has been publicly disclosed, the Deputy Secretary (Corporate Services & Primary Industries) as the Head of Agency’s delegate, will consider any request by that person to issue a statement of support setting out that the allegations were clearly wrong or unsubstantiated.

A flowchart depicting the Procedures for reporting disclosures


PID Lodgement Form

Download Public Interest Disclosure Lodgement Form as a PDF  Public Interest Disclosure Lodgement Form
(PDF: 41 KB / 3 pages) 
 

This is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file and requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Reader is easy to download and is free of charge.


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This page - http://www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/intertext.nsf/WebPages/LBUN-62U2BT?open - was last published on 18 July 2013 by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. Questions concerning its content can be sent to Internet Coordinator by using the feedback form, by mail to GPO Box 44, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001, or by telephone.

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