Information on Governance at Mansfield Shire Council, including information on Public Interest Disclosures (Protected Disclosures, formerly Whistleblowers), Freedom of Information, Meeting Procedure Local Law No. 2 and Public Documents Inspection Register.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 provides you with a legal right to access documents in the possession of the Council.
The FOI Act gives you:
- The right to access documents about your personal affairs and the activities of government agencies; and
- The right to request that incorrect or misleading information held by an agency about you be amended or removed.
However, some documents may be exempt from access, and these emexptoions are stipulated in the Act.
Mansfield Shire Council is a prescribed authority (or "agency") under the Act. The Act extends to the community the right to access information from prescribed authorities. The "information" sought by an applicant under the Act must be in document form and must be in the possession of the agency.
Requests for access to information under the FOI Act should be made in writing by completing the 'Application for Acess to Documents Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982' form and submitting it to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Mansfield Shire Council
Private Bag 1000
Mansfield Vic 3724
or via email to email@example.com
Council has produced an 'at a glance' handout which provides a summary of Freedom of Information, together with all the necessary information required to lodge an application. This handout can be downloaded from the link below.
Public Document Inspection Register
Council makes a range of documents available for public inspection, as governed by The Local Government Act 1989 and the Local Government (General) Regulations 2015.
Members of the public may inspect The Register of Interests and The Prescribed Documents Register
The Register of Interests
The Register of Interests enables both the Council member and the electors to be aware of and to assess whether there is a particular conflict between private interests and public duties.
The Chief Executive Officer must maintain a register of interests of councillors, special committee members and nominated officers, and that a person wishing to view the register must make a written application to the Chief Executive Officer.
The Chief Executive Officer must take all reasonable steps to ensure that no person other than a person who has made application has access to or is permitted to inspect the register. (S81(12))
A person must not publish any information derived from the register unless that information is a fair and accurate summary or copy of the information derived from the register. (S81(13))
The Prescribed Documents Register
Prescribed documents are those which are not published on the Council’s website however are available for inspection upon written application. Any person wishing to view prescribed documents must make a written application to the Chief Executive Officer.
Meeting Procedure Local Law No. 2
The Council's power to make this Meeting Procedure Local Law No.2 is contained in sections 5, 91(1) and 111(1) of the Local Government Act 1989.
The purpose of this Local Law is to:
- regulate proceedings and provide for orderly and fair conduct at all Council meetings and Special Committee meetings.
- provide for the administration of the Council’s powers and functions;
- regulate proceedings for the election of the Mayor/Deputy Mayor and Chairperson/Deputy Chairperson of the committees referred to in (a) above;
- regulate the use and prohibit unauthorised use of the common seal or any device resembling the common seal; and
- revoke Council‟s Meeting Procedure Local Law No 1 effective 18 April 2006.
Public Interest Disclosures (formerly Protected Disclosures, Whistleblowers)
Victoria’s Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (the PID Act) has replaced the Protected Disclosures Act 2012 which had superseded the Whistleblowers Protection Act in 2013. The updates to the PID Act provides stronger protections for people who make disclosures about improper conduct in the public sector, including Mansfield Shire Council, its staff, employees and Councillors.
Mansfield Shire Council is a public body subject to the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (“Act”). The purpose of the Act is to encourage and facilitate the making of disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, including Mansfield Shire Council, its staff, employees and Councillors. The Act ensures that people who report improper conduct and corruption in the Victorian public sector (whistleblowers) can do so in the knowledge that they will be protected.
Mansfield Shire Council is committed to the aims and objectives of the Act. It recognises the value of transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices, and supports the making of disclosures that reveal improper conduct. It does not tolerate improper conduct by the organisation, its employees, officers, or Councillors, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct. Protections include keeping the identity of the person reporting improper conduct confidential and protecting them from reprisals including bullying, harassment or legal action.
What can disclosures be made about?
The purpose of the Act is to encourage and facilitate the making of disclosures of improper conduct and detrimental action by public officers and public bodies. It does so by providing certain protections for people who make a disclosure, or those who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for making a disclosure. An essential component of this protection is to ensure that information connected to a protected disclosure, including the identity of a discloser and the contents of that disclosure, are kept strictly confidential.
A disclosure may be made about 2 things under the Act:
- improper conduct of public bodies or public officers; and
- detrimental action taken by public bodies or public officers in reprisal against a person for the making of a protected disclosure.
The Act provides definitions about improper conduct and detrimental action. For more information about what those terms mean, see the Council’s Protected Disclosure Policy (see further below about “how to make a disclosure” about how to access or obtain a copy of those procedures). You may also find more information about protected disclosures from the website of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (“IBAC”):
If the Council believes a disclosure may be a public interest disclosure (protected disclosure) made in accordance with the Act, it will notify the disclosure to the IBAC for assessment. The IBAC will then deal with the disclosure.
Who can make a disclosure?
Any individual natural person (eg, not an organisation or company) may make a disclosure under the Act. The individual could be a person within the organisation, or any member of the public externally. Individuals may also make a joint disclosure.
Disclosures may be made in a number of ways set out in the Act, including anonymously, in writing or orally. You need not identify the person or body about whom the disclosure is made in order to make a disclosure under the Act.
How to make a disclosure
As required under the Act, Mansfield Shire Council has established procedures to facilitate and encourage the making of disclosures under the Act and how the Council handles any such disclosures received. These procedures can be found in Council's Protected Disclosure Policy, and contains detailed information about who can receive disclosures, for example, the Council, the IBAC and the Ombudsman, and how you can go about making such disclosures to us or to those bodies.
If you are not able to access an online copy or would like a copy sent to you, please contact Council's Public Interest Disclosure Officer, Sharon Scott, so that a copy of our Public Interest Disclosures Policy can be provided to you.
Mansfield Shire Council takes its obligations under the Act seriously. This includes the requirement to protect the identity of the discloser and the matters disclosed by a discloser. Maintaining confidentiality in relation to protected disclosure matters is crucial, among other things, in ensuring reprisals are not made against a discloser. It is a criminal offence under the Act to disclose information connected with a disclosure made in accordance with the Act, including the identity of the discloser. The penalties for breaching confidentiality obligations include financial penalties and imprisonment.
For more information
The Council has appointed Corporate and Organisational Development Manager, Sharon Scott, to handle enquiries about its obligations under the Act. If you wish to obtain further information about Council’s Public Interest Disclosures Policy and/or procedures, or if you wish to arrange a confidential meeting to discuss any matters of concern, Ms Scott may be contacted on 5775 8555 or by email - firstname.lastname@example.org -
Council's Public Interest Disclosure Policy is currently being updated and will be presented to the March Ordinary Meeting of Council.