public interest disclosure:
making a disclosure
Employees can make a public disclosure to their supervisor, or to Screen Australia’s Authorised Officer (AO) for Public Interest Disclosures. The AO is the Governance Manager, who can be contacted at 02-8113 1056, at PID@screenaustralia.gov.au, or by mail at:
GPO Box 3984
Sydney NSW 2001.
Disclosures can also be made to the CEO, to the Ombudsman or to a prescribed investigative agency. Disclosures may be made anonymously; however, please bear in mind that providing as much information as possible about the situation may aid any investigation.
For more information, please see the Ombudsman’s publication How to make a public interest disclosure.
Screen Australia’s procedures for the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 are available on request.
What to include in a disclosure
In order to assist the AO in making a fully informed decision on how to proceed with a disclosure, as much of the following information ought to be provided as possible:
- the discloser’s name and contact details
- the nature of the wrongdoing
- who the discloser thinks committed the wrongdoing
- when and where the wrongdoing occurred
- relevant events surrounding the issue
- if the discloser did anything in response to the wrongdoing
- others who know about the wrongdoing and have allowed it to continue
- whether it is believed the information is a Public Interest Disclosure under the PID Act (it does not have to described it as such for it to be treated as a Public Interest Disclosure)
- if there are concerns about any possible reprisals as a result of making a disclosure.
It is important to be clear and factual, and to avoid speculation, personal attacks and emotive language as this will only divert attention from the real and relevant issues. A matter should not be investigated by the discloser before making a disclosure as doing so may hinder any future investigation.
The AO may ask for further supporting correspondence or other documents, such as file notes or a diary of events, and the names of any people who witnessed the conduct or may be able to verify what is being disclosed.
What happens next
All disclosures are treated in the strictest of confidence, and there are severe penalties for breaching the confidence of the discloser.
Screen Australia’s AO for Public Interest Disclosures has been delegated authority by the CEO to investigate Public Interest Disclosures on the CEO’s behalf.
Based on the information provided to him/her, the AO must decide whether the disclosure constitutes an internal disclosure. The AO must inform the discloser as soon as possible of the decision about whether it is an internal disclosure, and of their decision to allocate.
If the AO determines that the disclosure is an internal disclosure, the AO may decide to allocate the investigation to another agency, or to have the matter investigated within Screen Australia. The AO must inform the Ombudsman if a decision is taken not to investigate, or how the investigation has been allocated (i.e. internally or to another agency).
If the disclosure is determined to be an internal disclosure, the discloser enjoys protection from reprisals and from civil and criminal liability, even if the subsequent investigation determines that there was no wrongdoing. However, this protection does not apply if the discloser makes a statements that is knowingly false and misleading.
The investigation is undertaken by the CEO’s delegate (the Delegate). At Screen Australia, this is the Governance Manager.
At the end of the investigation, the CEO receives a copy of the report. The discloser also receives a copy of the report, but this may be redacted.
The Governance Manager therefore has responsibility for:
- receiving the disclosures
- for determining whether the disclosure is an internal one
- informing the discloser of that determination
- deciding where to allocate the investigation, if the disclosure is deemed to be internal
- informing the Ombudsman and the discloser of the allocation decision
- exercising discretion on whether to investigate
- informing Ombudsman if that discretion not to investigate is exercised
- informing the discloser of requirement to investigate, and length of investigation
- conducting the investigation
- preparing the final report on the investigation
- providing a copy of the report to discloser and CEO
- providing information to the Ombudsman on the operation of the PID Act.