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Glossary of terms

We have put together this glossary to assist you to understand some key terms and definitions, as they relate to the operations of the ICAC and the OPI.

 


Assessment

An assessment is the process undertaken by the OPI in order to identify any potential issues of corruption, misconduct or maladministration which may arise from a complaint or report.  The assessment process involves reviewing any information and documentation relevant to the complaint or report.  At times, the OPI will seek further information from the complainant, reporter or a third party.

If a potential issue of corruption, misconduct or maladministration is identified, a decision will be made about how that issue may be investigated.

An assessment is not an investigation.

 


Complaint

A complaint is a notification made to the OPI by a member of the public.

A notification about a police officer will be considered a complaint unless it is made by a police officer.

More about complaints & reports

 


Confidentiality

The ICAC Act prevents you from disclosing or publishing certain information connected with a complaint, report, assessment, investigation or referral.  

Sections 54 and 56 of the ICAC Act outline the information which cannot be disclosed or published (unless an exception applies).  Breaches of those provisions may be met with harsh penalties.

Statutory definition - Section 54 of the ICAC Act

54—Confidentiality

(1)

Except as required or authorised by this Act or by the Commissioner, a person who is or has been engaged in the administration of this Act must not, directly or indirectly, disclose information in relation to or connected with a matter that forms or is the subject of a complaint, report, assessment, investigation, referral or evaluation under this Act.

Maximum penalty: $2 500 or imprisonment for 6 months.

(2) Despite subsection (1), a person engaged in the administration of this Act may disclose information—
  (a)  for the purposes of the administration or enforcement of this Act; or
  (b)  for the purposes of referring a matter in accordance with this Act to a law enforcement agency, inquiry agency, public authority or public officer; or
  (c) for the purposes of a criminal proceeding or a proceeding for the imposition of a penalty; or
  (d) for the performance of the functions of the Office or the Commissioner under another Act; or
  (e) as otherwise required or authorised by this or another Act.
(3) A person who receives information knowing that the information is connected with a matter that forms or is the subject of a complaint, report, assessment, investigation, referral or evaluation under this Act must not disclose that information unless—
  (a) the person is authorised in writing by the Commissioner or by a person approved by the Commissioner under this section to give an authorisation; or
  (b) the disclosure of that information is for the purpose of—
(i) dealing with a matter referred under this Act by the Commissioner or the Office; or
(ii) a criminal proceeding, a proceeding for the imposition of a penalty or disciplinary action; or
(iii) a person obtaining legal advice or legal representation or for the purposes of determining whether a person is entitled to an indemnity for legal costs; or
(iv) a person obtaining medical or psychological assistance from a medical practitioner or psychologist; or
  (c) the information relates to the person and is disclosed by the person to a close family member of the person.
  Maximum penalty: $2 500 or imprisonment for 6 months.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(c), a person is a close family member of another person if—
  (a) 1 is a spouse of the other or is in a close personal relationship with the other; or
  (b) 1 is a parent or grandparent of the other (whether by blood or by marriage); or
  (c) 1 is a brother or sister of the other (whether by blood or by marriage); or
  (d)  1 is a guardian or carer of the other.
Statutory definition - Section 56 of the ICAC Act

56—Publication of information and evidence

   A person must not, except as authorised by the Commissioner or a court hearing proceedings for an offence against this Act, publish, or cause to be published— 
  (a)  information tending to suggest that a particular person is, has been, may be, or may have been, the subject of a complaint, report, assessment, investigation or referral under this Act; or
  (b)  information that might enable a person who has made a complaint or report under this Act to be identified or located; or
  (c)  the fact that a person has made or may be about to make a complaint or report under this Act; or
  (d)  information that might enable a person who has given or may be about to give information or other evidence under this Act to be identified or located; or
  (e)  the fact that a person has given or may be about to give information or other evidence under this Act; or
  (f)  any other information or evidence publication of which is prohibited by the Commissioner.
  Maximum penalty: 
  (a)  in the case of a body corporate—$150 000;
  (b)  in the case of a natural person—$30 000.

More about privacy & protection

 


Corruption

Corruption is the term used within the ICAC Act to describe a number of offences.  Corruption generally involves criminal behaviour by a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer and may include theft, bribery, assault or abuse of public office.

Complaints or reports which raise potential issues of corruption will be investigated by the Commissioner or referred to the South Australia Police or another law enforcement agency for investigation.

Statutory definition - Section 5(1) of the ICAC Act

5—Corruption, misconduct and maladministration

(1) Corruption in public administration means conduct that constitutes— 
  (a)  an offence against Part 7 Division 4 (Offences relating to public officers) of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, which includes the following offences:
       (i) bribery or corruption of public officers;
       (ii) threats or reprisals against public officers;
       (iii) abuse of public office;
       (iv) demanding or requiring benefit on basis of public office;
       (v) offences relating to appointment to public office; or
  (b)  an offence against the Public Sector (Honesty and Accountability) Act 1995 or the Public Corporations Act 1993, or an attempt to commit such an offence; or
  (ba) an offence against the Lobbyists Act 2015, or an attempt to commit such an offence; or
  (c)  any other offence (including an offence against Part 5 (Offences of dishonesty) of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935) committed by a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer or by a former public officer and related to his or her former capacity as a public officer, or by a person before becoming a public officer and related to his or her capacity as a public officer, or an attempt to commit such an offence; or
  (d)  any of the following in relation to an offence referred to in a preceding paragraph:
       (i) aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of the offence;
       (ii) inducing, whether by threats or promises or otherwise, the commission of the offence;
       (iii) being in any way, directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned in, or party to, the commission of the offence;
       (iv) conspiring with others to effect the commission of the offence.
(2)  If the Commissioner suspects that an offence that is not corruption in public administration (an incidental offence) may be directly or indirectly connected with, or may be a part of, a course of activity involving the commission of corruption in public administration (whether or not the Commissioner has identified the nature of that corruption), then the incidental offence is, for so long only as the Commissioner so suspects, taken for the purposes of this Act to be corruption in public administration.

 


Examination

The Commissioner may conduct an examination for the purposes of obtaining information during the course of an investigation.  

Schedule 2 of the ICAC Act prescribes the Commissioner's powers in conducting an examination for the purposes of a corruption investigation.  However, the Commissioner may also conduct examinations during the course of a misconduct or maladministration investigation.  All examinations must be held in private.

While a party may be legally represented when giving evidence before the Commissioner, an examination is not a court proceeding.

 

More about examinations

 


ICAC Act

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 (ICAC Act) came into effect on 1 September 2013 and establishes the Office for Public Integrity and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.  

The ICAC Act sets out the powers and functions of those offices.

View the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012

 


Independent Commissioner Against Corruption

The Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC Act) is created by the ICAC Act.  The ICAC is a law enforcement body whose functions include:

  • identifying corruption in public administration, investigating potential issues of corruption or referring potential issues of corruption to another agency for investigation
  • assisting inquiry agencies and public authorities to identify and deal with misconduct and maladministration in public administration
  • conducting or facilitating education programs designed to prevent or minimise corruption, misconduct and maladministration.

South Australia's first ICAC is the Hon. Bruce Lander QC.

More about us     More about Commissioner Lander

 


Inquiry agency

The Commissioner or the OPI may refer matters raising potential issues of misconduct or maladministration to an inquiry agency for investigation.  

Currently, the South Australian Ombudsman is the only inquiry agency for the purposes of the ICAC Act.

 


Internal Investigation Section

The Internal Investigation Section (IIS) is the section of the South Australia Police responsible for assessing and investigating allegations concerning the conduct of police officers.

The OPI will ordinarily refer any complaint or report it receives about the conduct of a police officer to the IIS for assessment.  The OPI oversees the assessments and investigations undertaken by the IIS.

 


Investigation

Any matter assessed as raising a potential issue of corruption in public administration must be investigated by the Commissioner or referred to the South Australia Police or another law enforcement agency for investigation.  Those matters involve alleged criminal offending. 

Misconduct or maladministration investigations are ordinarily undertaken by a public authority or an inquiry agency following a referral by the ICAC or the OPI.  

At times, the Commissioner will investigate allegations of misconduct or maladministration in public administration if he thinks those matters are serious or systemic and he considers that it is in the public interest to undertake the investigation himself.

More about investigations

 


Maladministration

Maladministration involves the conduct of a public officer or the practice, policy and procedure of a public authority that results in an irregular or unauthorised use of public money, the substantial mismanagement of public resources, or the substantial mismanagement of official functions. 

Maladministration is often associated with poor governance.

Statutory definition - Section 5(4) of the ICAC Act

5—Corruption, misconduct and maladministration

(4) Maladministration in public administration—

  (a)  means—
    (i) conduct of a public officer, or a practice, policy or procedure of a public authority, that results in an irregular and unauthorised use of public money or substantial mismanagement of public resources; or
    (ii) conduct of a public officer involving substantial mismanagement in or in relation to the performance of official functions; and
  (b)  includes conduct resulting from impropriety, incompetence or negligence; and
  (c)  is to be assessed having regard to relevant statutory provisions and administrative instructions and directions.


Misconduct

Misconduct involves the conduct of a public officer which contravenes a code of conduct and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action, or other misconduct.  

The conduct must involve the public officer acting in his or her capacity as a public officer.

Statutory definition - Section 5(3) of the ICAC Act

5—Corruption, misconduct and maladministration

(3)  Misconduct in public administration means— 
  (a)  contravention of a code of conduct by a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer that constitutes a ground for disciplinary action against the officer; or
  (b)  other misconduct of a public officer while acting in his or her capacity as a public officer.

 


Office for Public Integrity

The Office for Public Integrity (OPI) is the point of contact for anyone wishing to make a complaint or report about public administration in South Australia and it is responsible for receiving, assessing and referring complaints and reports. 

The OPI is also responsible for overseeing the assessment and investigation of matters involving the South Australia Police.

More about the OPI

 


Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016

The Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016 (PCDA) came into effect on 5 September 2017 and provides a scheme for the assessment, investigation and resolution of allegations concerning the conduct of police officers.

The PCDA enables the OPI to oversee the assessment and investigation of matters about police officers.

View the Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016


Public administration

Public administration is not defined by the ICAC Act but includes the delivery of public services and public infrastructure and the spending of public money.

 


Public authority

Public authorities are listed in Schedule 1 of the ICAC Act and include:

  • The Governor
  • Both Houses of Parliament
  • The Chief Executive of a state government department
  • Statutory authorities and statutory office holders
  • Local councils

Complaints or reports which raise potential issues of misconduct or maladministration are routinely referred to a public authority for investigation. 

Statutory definition - Schedule 1 of the ICAC Act

Schedule 1—Public officers, public authorities and responsible Ministers

For the purposes of this Act, the table below lists public officers, the public authorities responsible for the officers and the Ministers responsible for the public authorities.

Public officers Public authority Minister
Governor Attorney-General Premier
a person appointed to an office by the Governor

Governor

Attorney-General

Premier

a Member of the Legislative Council

an officer of the Legislative Council

a person under the separate control of the President of the Legislative Council

Legislative Council  

a Member of the House of Assembly

an officer of the House of Assembly

a person under the separate control of the Speaker of the House of Assembly

House of Assembly  
a member of the joint parliamentary service Joint Parliamentary Service Committee  

the principal officer of a judicial body

a judicial officer that constitutes a judicial body

Attorney-General Premier
a judicial officer (other than a judicial officer who is the principal officer of a judicial body or who constitutes a judicial body)

the principal officer of the judicial body of which the judicial officer is a member

Attorney-General

Premier
a member of the staff of the State Courts Administration Council State Courts Administration Council Attorney-General
a person who constitutes a statutory authority or who is a statutory office holder the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act under which the statutory authority is constituted or the statutory office holder is appointed Premier

a person who is a member of the governing body of a statutory authority

an officer or employee of a statutory authority or statutory office holder or a Public Service employee assigned to assist the statutory authority or statutory office holder

the statutory authority or statutory office holder the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act constituting the statutory authority or statutory office holder

a member of a local government body

an officer or employee of a local government body

the local government body the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999
the Local Government Association of South Australia the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999 Premier

a person who is a member of the governing body of the Local Government Association of South Australia

an officer or employee of the Local Government Association of South Australia

the Local Government Association of South Australia the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999
the chief executive of an administrative unit of the Public Service the Minister responsible for the administrative unit Premier
a Public Service employee (other than a chief executive) the chief executive of the administrative unit of the Public Service in which the employee is employed the Minister responsible for the administrative unit
a police officer Commissioner of Police the Minister responsible for the administration of the Police Act 1998
a protective security officer appointed under the Protective Security Act 2007 Commissioner of Police the Minister responsible for the administration of the Protective Security Act 2007
an officer or employee appointed by the employing authority under the Education Act 1972 the employing authority under the Education Act 1972 the Minister responsible for the administration of the Education Act 1972
a person appointed by the Premier under the Public Sector Act 2009 Premier Attorney-General
a person appointed by the Minister under the Public Sector Act 2009 the Minister responsible for the administration of the Public Sector Act 2009 Premier
any other public sector employee the public sector agency that employs the employee

if the public sector agency is the Premier, the Attorney-General

if the public sector agency is a Minister other than the Premier, the Premier

in any other case, the Minister responsible for the public sector agency or the Premier

a person to whom a function or power of a public authority or a public officer is delegated in accordance with an Act the public authority or the public authority responsible for the public officer (as the case requires)

if the public authority is the Premier, the Attorney-General

if the public authority is a Minister other than the Premier, the Premier

in any other case, the Minister responsible for the public authority

a person who is, in accordance with an Act, assisting a public officer in the enforcement of the Act the public authority responsible for the public officer the Minister responsible for the public authority
a person performing contract work for a public authority or the Crown if the work is performed for a public authority, the public authority or, in any other case, the Premier the Minister responsible for the public authority
a person declared by regulation to be a public officer the person declared by regulation to be the public authority responsible for the public officer the Minister declared by regulation to be responsible for the public authority and its public officers

Download list of public officers and authorities

 


Public officer

Schedule 1 of the ICAC Act provides a list of public officers.

Public officers have obligations to report certain conduct to the OPI.  Public officers can also be the subject of a complaint or report to the OPI and can be investigated by the Commissioner.

Public officers include:

  • Members of the South Australian Parliament
  • Members of the South Australian judiciary
  • South Australia Police officers
  • public service employees
  • Councillors 
  • Council employees
  • persons contracted to perform work for a public authority or the Crown
Statutory definition - Schedule 1 of the ICAC Act

Schedule 1—Public officers, public authorities and responsible Ministers

For the purposes of this Act, the table below lists public officers, the public authorities responsible for the officers and the Ministers responsible for the public authorities.

Public officers Public authority Minister
Governor Attorney-General Premier
a person appointed to an office by the Governor

Governor

Attorney-General

Premier

a Member of the Legislative Council

an officer of the Legislative Council

a person under the separate control of the President of the Legislative Council

Legislative Council  

a Member of the House of Assembly

an officer of the House of Assembly

a person under the separate control of the Speaker of the House of Assembly

House of Assembly  
a member of the joint parliamentary service Joint Parliamentary Service Committee  

the principal officer of a judicial body

a judicial officer that constitutes a judicial body

Attorney-General Premier
a judicial officer (other than a judicial officer who is the principal officer of a judicial body or who constitutes a judicial body)

the principal officer of the judicial body of which the judicial officer is a member

Attorney-General

Premier
a member of the staff of the State Courts Administration Council State Courts Administration Council Attorney-General
a person who constitutes a statutory authority or who is a statutory office holder the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act under which the statutory authority is constituted or the statutory office holder is appointed Premier

a person who is a member of the governing body of a statutory authority

an officer or employee of a statutory authority or statutory office holder or a Public Service employee assigned to assist the statutory authority or statutory office holder

the statutory authority or statutory office holder the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act constituting the statutory authority or statutory office holder

a member of a local government body

an officer or employee of a local government body

the local government body the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999
the Local Government Association of South Australia the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999 Premier

a person who is a member of the governing body of the Local Government Association of South Australia

an officer or employee of the Local Government Association of South Australia

the Local Government Association of South Australia the Minister responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1999
the chief executive of an administrative unit of the Public Service the Minister responsible for the administrative unit Premier
a Public Service employee (other than a chief executive) the chief executive of the administrative unit of the Public Service in which the employee is employed the Minister responsible for the administrative unit
a police officer Commissioner of Police the Minister responsible for the administration of the Police Act 1998
a protective security officer appointed under the Protective Security Act 2007 Commissioner of Police the Minister responsible for the administration of the Protective Security Act 2007
an officer or employee appointed by the employing authority under the Education Act 1972 the employing authority under the Education Act 1972 the Minister responsible for the administration of the Education Act 1972
a person appointed by the Premier under the Public Sector Act 2009 Premier Attorney-General
a person appointed by the Minister under the Public Sector Act 2009 the Minister responsible for the administration of the Public Sector Act 2009 Premier
any other public sector employee the public sector agency that employs the employee

if the public sector agency is the Premier, the Attorney-General

if the public sector agency is a Minister other than the Premier, the Premier

in any other case, the Minister responsible for the public sector agency or the Premier

a person to whom a function or power of a public authority or a public officer is delegated in accordance with an Act the public authority or the public authority responsible for the public officer (as the case requires)

if the public authority is the Premier, the Attorney-General

if the public authority is a Minister other than the Premier, the Premier

in any other case, the Minister responsible for the public authority

a person who is, in accordance with an Act, assisting a public officer in the enforcement of the Act the public authority responsible for the public officer the Minister responsible for the public authority
a person performing contract work for a public authority or the Crown if the work is performed for a public authority, the public authority or, in any other case, the Premier the Minister responsible for the public authority
a person declared by regulation to be a public officer the person declared by regulation to be the public authority responsible for the public officer the Minister declared by regulation to be responsible for the public authority and its public officers

Download list of public officers and authorities

 


Publish

For the purposes of the ICAC Act, the term 'publish' means publish by: 

  • newspaper, radio or television 
  • internet or other electronic means of creating and sharing content with the public or participating in social networking with the public 
  • or any similar means of communication to the public

It is an offence to publish certain information in relation to a complaint, report, assessment, investigation or referral unless you are authorised to do so.

Statutory definition - Section 56 of the ICAC Act

56—Publication of information and evidence

   A person must not, except as authorised by the Commissioner or a court hearing proceedings for an offence against this Act, publish, or cause to be published— 
  (a)  information tending to suggest that a particular person is, has been, may be, or may have been, the subject of a complaint, report, assessment, investigation or referral under this Act; or
  (b)  information that might enable a person who has made a complaint or report under this Act to be identified or located; or
  (c)  the fact that a person has made or may be about to make a complaint or report under this Act; or
  (d)  information that might enable a person who has given or may be about to give information or other evidence under this Act to be identified or located; or
  (e)  the fact that a person has given or may be about to give information or other evidence under this Act; or
  (f)  any other information or evidence publication of which is prohibited by the Commissioner.
  Maximum penalty: 
  (a)  in the case of a body corporate—$150 000;
  (b)  in the case of a natural person—$30 000.

More about privacy & protection   Information for the media

 


Reasonable suspicion

A suspicion is something short of knowledge or belief. You may not know something has occurred, but merely suspect it. For a suspicion to be reasonable there needs to be a rational basis for the suspicion.

A reasonable suspicion provides a threshold for reporting certain conduct to the OPI. 

 


Referral

The process by which the Commissioner or the OPI sends a complaint or report to another agency or authority for investigation.  At times, the Commissioner will retain oversight of the referral and will require the agency to report back to him on the findings made and the action taken.

 


Report

A notification made to the OPI by a public officer, public authority or inquiry agency about conduct which is suspected to involve corruption, misconduct or maladministration in public administration.

A notification about the conduct of a police officer will only be considered a report if the notification is made by a police officer.

More about complaints & reports

 


Reporting obligations

Public officers, public authorities and inquiry agencies are required to report to the OPI any conduct they reasonably suspect involves corruption in public administration or serious or systemic misconduct or maladministration in public administration. 

More about reporting obligations   View Directions & Guidelines

 


Serious or systemic

Public officers, public authorities and inquiry agencies are only obliged to report suspicions of misconduct and maladministration to the OPI if the conduct is serious or systemic.  

The Commissioner also has the power to investigate misconduct or maladministration if he considers the conduct or be serious or systemic.

A matter may be considered serious if it: 

  • involves a senior public officer
  • involves conduct that has resulted in a substantial loss or damage to assets
  • involves allegations that would, if proved, bring an agency into disrepute or diminish public confidence in public administration
  • is otherwise of particular prominence or importance

A matter may be considered systemic if it: 

  • causes widespread disruption to services or programs
  • affects a number of persons
  • is spread throughout an agency or authority, or is otherwise accepted or condoned
  • involves a large sum of public money
Statutory definition - Section 4(2) of the ICAC Act

4—Interpretation

(2) For the purposes of this Act, misconduct or maladministration in public administration will be taken to be serious or systemic if the misconduct or maladministration— 
  (a)  is of such a significant nature that it would undermine public confidence in the relevant public authority, or in public administration generally; and
  (b)  has significant implications for the relevant public authority or for public administration generally (rather than just for the individual public officer concerned).

     


    Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993

    The Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 (WP Act) provides a scheme by which a person can make a disclosure, in the public interest, of maladministration and waste in the public sector and of corrupt or illegal conduct generally.

    The scheme provides protections to those who make appropriate disclosures of public interest information under the WP Act. These protections include the person who makes the disclosure incurring no civil or criminal liability for doing so and relief being available for any act of victimisation arising out of making an appropriate disclosure.

     The WP Act states that an appropriate disclosure of public interest information is made by a person if, an only if, the person:

    • Believes on reasonable grounds that the information is true; or
    • Believes on reasonable grounds that the information may be true and is of a sufficient significance to justify its disclosure so that its truth may be investigated; and
    • The disclosure is made to a person to whom it is, in the circumstances of the case, reasonable and appropriate to make the disclosure.

    The WP Act nominates a number of appropriate authorities to whom a disclosure can be made. If a disclosure is made to one of the nominated appropriate authorities in the circumstances identified by the WP Act, the disclosure is taken to have been made to a person to whom it is, in the circumstances of the case, reasonable and appropriate to make the disclosure.
     

    View the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993   View more about your privacy & protection