The Victorian Parliament has established independent watchdog agencies to help ensure that the public sector, including DELWP agencies and their board members and employees, acts with integrity, efficiency, and accountability, for example:
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
- Victorian Ombudsman
- Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO)
- Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC)
Depending on the particular watchdog agency, its role may include:
- receiving complaints
- conducting investigations, either in response to a complaint or on its own initiative
- making reports with findings and recommendations, which may be tabled in Parliament or, in the case of IBAC, be highly secret to protect a whistleblower
- referring the matter on to be dealt with, for example, by Victoria Police or by DELWP.
Related support module: As your agency’s governing body, the board must act with integrity and foster integrity throughout the organisation. It should have a board policy that is consistent with DELWP’s model Integrity Framework.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) deals with allegations of corrupt and other ‘improper’ conduct, as defined by law, in the Victorian public sector, including in DELWP agencies.
Protected disclosures must be made direct to IBAC
An allegation that a board member, staff member or other person is involved in corrupt or other ‘improper’ conduct in relation to a DELWP agency must be made directly to IBAC. Otherwise, the allegation will be ineligible to be a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2012. This applies whether the whistleblower is a member of the agency or an external person.
Making a protected disclosure:
- ensures that the identity of the whistleblower (the ‘discloser’) and the nature of the complaint remain confidential
- gives the discloser legal protection under the Act against reprisals (‘detrimental action’) being taken against them.
It is important for your agency to ensure that board members and staff know to immediately advise a potential discloser to redirect their allegation to IBAC instead. The person should be assisted to understand that a protected disclosure:
- cannot be made to the agency
- cannot be made to DELWP
- MUST ONLY be made directly to IBAC.
Mandatory notifications by CEO (principal officer)
Your agency’s principal officer (CEO by whatever title) must notify IBAC if they suspect that corrupt conduct has occurred or is occurring in the agency, or in relation to the agency, unless exempt under s 57(1) and (1A) of the IBAC Act.
IBAC has produced guidance for principal officers on mandatory reporting, including:
- Directions for making mandatory notifications of suspected corruption
- Mandatory notifications – Frequently asked questions
- Mandatory notification form.
If your agency is subject to the Financial Management Act 1994, there are additional requirements under Standing Direction 3.5.3 to notify the Minister for Finance and the Auditor-General of suspected or actual theft, arson, irregularity or fraud.
The Secretary of DELWP also has an obligation to report suspected corrupt conduct in a DELWP agency to IBAC.
The DELWP guidance note on this topic is currently being updated. In the meantime, for further information please see the IBAC website.
The Victorian Ombudsman can investigate complaints about:
- administrative action taken by state government departments, local government, and most statutory authorities, including DELWP agencies
- the conduct of public sector board members, executives and staff in undertaking their respective roles.
Prior to making a complaint to the Ombudsman, the aggrieved person should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the DELWP agency.
Most complaints are dealt with informally. In the case of a formal investigation the Ombudsman may report their findings to Parliament. For further information, visit the Ombudsman's website.
The Victorian Auditor General's Office (VAGO) conducts performance and financial audits of public sector agencies, including DELWP agencies. Whilst VAGO does not receive individual complaints, it is part of the integrity framework that helps to ensure the public sector conducts its role with integrity, accountability and efficiency.
The Victorian Auditor-General reports their findings to Parliament. For further information visit the VAGO website.
Complaints can be made to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner about possible breaches of the Information Privacy Principles by public sector organisations and local government, including by DELWP agencies.
Prior to making a complaint to the Commissioner, the aggrieved person should attempt to resolve the matter directly with the DELWP agency.