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Public Interest Disclosure

Introduction

Victoria’s Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (the PID Act) has replaced the Protected Disclosures Act 2012 which had superseded the Whistleblowers Protection Act in 2013.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 Public Interest Disclosures 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”): 

IBAC - Public Interest Disclosures

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 Public Interest Disclosures 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 General Manager Community and Corporate Services, Chris Snook, so that a copy of our Policy can be provided to you.

Confidentiality

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 General Manager Community and Corporate Services, Chris Snook, 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, Mr Snook may be contacted on 5775 8555 or by email - council@mansfield.vic.gov.au 

What is a Public Interest Disclosure fact sheet

 

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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 December, 2020 - 13:09