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Make a public interest disclosure

You can make a public interest disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 (PID Act).

The PID Act establishes a scheme that encourages and facilitates the disclosure of public interest information to certain persons or authorities (a public interest disclosure).

It provides protections for those who make appropriate disclosures and sets out processes for dealing with those disclosures.

On 1 July 2019 the PID Act replaced the Whistleblower Protection Act 1993.

Under the new scheme, there are two types of public interest information. The first is environmental and health information. The second is public administration information

Make a disclosure of public administration information 

MAke a disclosure of environmental and health information

Who can make a public interest disclosure?

Anyone can make a disclosure of environmental and health information.

While anyone can make a disclosure of public administration information only public officers who make an appropriate disclosure of public administration information are eligible for the protections provided by the PID Act.

What protections are provided by the PID Act?

To gain the protections provided under the PID Act a person must make an appropriate disclosure

A person who makes an appropriate disclosure of public interest information is protected by that person's identity being kept confidential in accordance with section 8 of the PID Act. 

Section 8 of the PID Act - Identity of informant to be kept confidential

8—Identity of informant to be kept confidential

(1) A person to whom an appropriate disclosure of public interest information is made, or a person to whom such a disclosure is referred or who otherwise knows that such a disclosure has been made, must not, without the consent of the informant, knowingly divulge the identity of the informant except—
  (a)  so far as may be necessary to ensure that the matters to which the information relates are properly investigated; or
  (b)  in accordance with any applicable guidelines prepared under section 14.
  Maximum penalty: $20 000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
(2) The obligation to maintain confidentiality imposed by this section applies despite any other statutory provision, or a common law rule, to the contrary.

A person who makes an appropriate disclosure of public interest information has the immunity provided for in section 5(1) of the PID Act.

Section 5(1) of the PID Act - Immunity for appropriate disclosure of public interest information

5—Immunity for appropriate disclosure of public interest information

(1) If—
  (a)  a person makes an appropriate disclosure of environmental and health information; or
  (b)  a public officer makes an appropriate disclosure of public administration information,
  the person is not subject to any liability as a result of that disclosure.

The PID Act contains provisions dealing with victimisation of a person who suffers a detriment on the ground, or substantially on the ground, that the person has made or intends to make an appropriate disclosure of public interest information. This is addressed in section 9 of the PID Act which makes an act of victimisation a criminal offence.

Who can receive a public interest disclosure?

There are a number of relevant authorities that can receive disclosures of public interest information.

The most appropriate relevant authority to make your public interest disclosure will depend on the subject matter of your disclosure. Section 5(5) of the PID Act provides a list of relevant authorities by subject matter.

Each relevant authority will have its own procedures in relation to receiving a disclosure. You should check with the relevant authority to understand how to make your disclosure directly to them.

Section 5(5) of the PID Act - Immunity for appropriate disclosure of public interest information

5—Immunity for appropriate disclosure of public interest information

 (5)  A disclosure of public interest information is made to a relevant authority if it is made to— 
  (a)  where the information relates to a public officer— 
    (i)   a person who is, in accordance with any guidelines prepared under section 14, designated as a person who is taken to be responsible for the management or supervision of the public officer or to the relevant responsible officer; or
    (ii)  a person who is, in fact, responsible for the management or supervision of the public officer or to the relevant responsible officer; or
  (b) where the information relates to a public sector agency or public sector employee—
    (i)   the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment; or
    (ii)  the responsible officer for the relevant public sector agency; or
  (c) where the information relates to an agency to which the Ombudsman Act 1972 applies—the Ombudsman; or
  (d) where the information relates to a location within the area of a particular council established under the Local Government Act 1999—a member, officer or employee of that council; or
  (e) where the information relates to a risk to the environment—the Environment Protection Authority; or
  (f) where the information relates to an irregular and unauthorised use of public money or substantial mismanagement of public resources—the Auditor-General; or
  (g) where the information relates to the commission, or suspected commission, of any offence—a member of the police force; or
  (h) where the information relates to a judicial officer—the Judicial Conduct Commissioner; or
  (i) where the information relates to a member of Parliament—the Presiding Officer of the House of Parliament to which the member belongs; or
  (j) where the information relates to a person or a matter of a prescribed class—an authority declared by the regulations to be a relevant authority in relation to such information; or
  (k) a Minister of the Crown; or
  (l) OPI; or
  (m) any other prescribed person or person of a prescribed class.

 

Information for relevant authorities