Public Interest Disclosure
The Town of Cambridge (the Town) has a zero tolerance to improper or corrupt conduct, inclusive of mismanagement of public resources in the exercise of the public functions of the Town, its Officers, Employees or contractors. The Town will comply with its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (the Act), and will take all reasonable steps to provide protection against any detrimental reprisal action for those who make public interest disclosures.
What is Public Interest Disclosure?
A public interest disclosure (PID) occurs when a person provides information to a proper authority about a matter that is of public interest. This information must be about some past, present or proposed improper behaviour by a public body (public authority, public officer, or public sector contractor), while carrying out a public function. A disclosure must relate to a matter of public interest and show wrongdoing by a public body when performing a public function.
What is a Public Body?
Public bodies include: - A public authority (includes a State Government organisation, local government, regional local government, or a public university). - A public officer (includes a State public service officer, an employee of a public authority, a minister, a Member of Parliament, a judicial officer, a police officer, a holder of office under the State, or an officer of the Commonwealth exercising a function on behalf of the State). - A public sector contractor (a person or organisation engaged by a public authority, or a subcontractor of this person, for the supply of goods and services or the performance of a public function.
What should be Disclosed (Reported) under the Act?
A disclosure must show the public body's involvement in one or more of the following: - Improper conduct (generally a breach of the standards of conduct that a reasonable person could expect of a person or body, knowing their duties, powers and authority, in the circumstances of the case); - An offence under State Law (including corruption); - Conduct relating to matters of State or Local Government Administration; - Irregular or unauthorised use of public resources; - Substantial mismanagement of public resources; and/or - Conduct that involves a substantial and specific risk of injury, prejudice to public safety, or harm to the environment. Note: The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 does not apply to information that someone has, or is, engaging in criminal behaviour that is unconnected with their employment.
What is the Difference between a Public Interest Disclosure and a Grievance?
A public authority can receive many different types of complaints. These can range from workplace disputes, harassment, bullying, or occupational health concerns, through to allegation of improper conduct or corruption. Not all of these disclosures will be a public interest disclosure to which the Act will apply. The following table demonstrates the difference between a Public Interest Disclosure and a grievance:
Who can make a Public Interest Disclosure?
Under the Act, any person can make a disclosure if they believe something is wrong with the way a public body is acting, or going to act. Anyone (including employees of public bodies or members of the public) who believe, on reasonable grounds, that the information they have is true, can make a disclosure. It must always be in the public interest to report it. Before making a disclosure, you should consider whether the subject matter could be dealt with through other channels, for example a grievance procedure, or by reporting it to management or another authority.
How to make a Public Interest Disclosure
Before making a disclosure, the Town's Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Officer should be contacted to find out more about: - How to make the disclosure, and who you should disclose to. - Your rights and responsibilities. - The protections that will apply. - Whether the information you have is covered by the Act. If the information is not covered by the Act, you can still make the disclosure to the Town using the Town's: - Grievance Process if you are, or were, an employee at the time the incident occurred (Policy HRPOL 4.3); or - Complaints Management Process if you are a member of the public (Policy 1.2.12). Once you have been informed about the Act, your rights and responsibilities, you must make it clear that you have chosen to make the disclosure under the Act, complete and sign a Public Interest Disclosure Lodgement Form.
If you choose to make your disclosure under the Act, please note:
- You must ensure you do not discuss the matter with anyone other than the PID Officer, or the person conducting the investigation.
- You may lose your immunity under the Act and breach the confidentiality provisions which may incur a penalty. Disclosure is more than a general complaint about dissatisfaction with a service or product, or a decision by government, and it is more than a personal grievance that can be resolved by agreement between parties. In order to be covered by the Act, the information needs to relate to a matter of public interest.
Note: It is a serious offence to make a disclosure that is false, trivial, vexatious, misleading, or tied to any personal agenda. If you know the information in the disclosure is false or misleading, or you are reckless about the information, it will be considered an offence, and could attract a penalty of $12,000 or one year's imprisonment.
Please contact the Town's PID Officer:
Phone - 9347 6000
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org