Public interest disclosure
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act), which commenced on 15 January 2014, builds on practices established to protect Australian Public Service (APS) employees who disclose information on suspected breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.
The purpose of the PID Act is to promote the integrity and accountability of the Commonwealth public sector by:
- encouraging and facilitating the making of disclosures of wrongdoing by public officials
- ensuring that public officials who make protected disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences relating to the making of a disclosure
- ensuring that disclosures are properly investigated and dealt with.
The PID Act complements existing notification, investigation and complaint-handling schemes in the Commonwealth public sector. For example, where a public interest disclosure concerns suspected fraud, the investigation should be conducted in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. The PID Act provides additional protections for disclosers and reporting obligations for agencies.
For more information see the Ombudsman’s publication: The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 – what’s it all about?
In summary, a public interest disclosure is made when:
- a person who is or has been a public official (this includes all current and former Screen Australia employees, contractors, consultants and Board members)
- discloses to their supervisor or manager, or an authorised officer of an agency
- information which tends to show, or the discloser believes on reasonable grounds tends to show, one or more instances of disclosable conduct.
This is defined as an 'internal' disclosure when a public official discloses information to a person inside government.
In limited circumstances a public official may disclose such information to a person outside government – this is known as an ‘external’ disclosure or ‘emergency’ disclosure.
For more information, please see the Ombudsman’s publication Speaking up about Wrongdoing – A guide to making a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013