What is a Protected Disclosure?
In certain circumstances a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer, public body, or a member of the public, will be a protected disclosure. A complaint made about detrimental action in response to a report of improper conduct may also be a protected disclosure.
The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act), enables people to make disclosures about corruption or improper conduct within the public sector without fear of reprisal. The PD Act aims to ensure openness and accountability by encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do.
The PD Act provides certain protections for people who make disclosures, and creates certain obligations of confidentiality preventing the disclosure of the identity of the person who has made a disclosure and the content of the disclosure, unless it is done under certain specified circumstances. Disclosure of either the identity of a discloser, or the content of their disclosure that is not covered by any of those specified exceptions is a criminal offence.
The PD Act supports the Government’s commitment to the principles of open, honest and accountable governance. The PD Act:
- encourages and assists individuals in making disclosures of improper and or corrupt conduct by public officers and public bodies
- establishes a system for such matters to be confidentially disclosed and impartially investigated
- provides the discloser with protection from detrimental action as a result of making the disclosure.
Corrupt conduct includes:
- taking or offering bribes
- dishonestly using influence
- committing fraud, theft or embezzlement
- misusing information or material acquired at work
- conspiring or attempting to engage in the above corrupt activity.
Corruption can occur through:
- improper or unlawful actions by public sector staff or agencies
- failure of public sector staff or agencies to act
- actions of private individuals who try to improperly influence public sector functions or decisions.
Improper conduct is misconduct that must be either criminal conduct or conduct serious enough to result in a person’s dismissal.
How is a Protected Disclosure handled?
If you submit your complaint to DELWP, we will assess it against the criteria provided by the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) to determine whether it is a Protected Disclosure. If so, your complaint will be referred to IBAC for investigation. and you will be appointed a welfare manager.
Once IBAC received the referral it may decide to investigate the matter itself or refer it to another body (most likely the Victorian Ombudsman) to investigate further. It may determine that the complaint does not meet the criteria of a Protected Disclosure, and refer it back to DELWP to be investigated.
For more information, please refer to the attached guide:
- Protected Disclosure Management in DELWP (PDF, 90.0 KB)
- Protected Disclosure Management in DELWP (DOCX, 117.8 KB)
What protections do I have if I make a Protected Disclosure?
A person who makes a disclosure that becomes a protected disclosure is assured confidentiality and protection from reprisal or detrimental action.
The department understands that the welfare of disclosers and the provision of protection against reprisals for them and their families is essential to enable individuals to come forward and to support the operation of the PD Act.
To ensure these goals are met, the Protected Disclosure Coordinator will ensure confidentiality and will assign a Welfare Manager once the disclosure is assessed as a protected disclosure. The Welfare Manager will provide advice, support and monitor any risks of reprisals. Support can also be provided to individuals who cooperate with an investigation.
In the event of detrimental action, the PD Act allows for the department to take great measures to resolve the situation transferring employees internally, or in the most serious cases, to another agency (subject to conditions).
You will need to keep your disclosure confidential to minimise the risk of detrimental action such as discrimination or other adverse treatment. Only discuss it and related matters with authorised department officers such as the Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator, Protected Disclosure Officer, or the Welfare Manager.
How do I make a Protected Disclosure?
Any person can make a disclosure of suspected corrupt or improper conduct by DELWP or its employees or the improper conduct of a member of the public in relation to the department operation. You may remain anonymous if you wish.
Write in an envelope marked “Private and Confidential for Addressee Only” to:
Protected Disclosure Coordinator
PO Box 500
East Melbourne 8002
Telephone: 1800 903 877
Alternatively, you may wish to report the conduct directly to IBAC by contacting:
Level 1, North Tower
459 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
GPO Box 24234, Melbourne, VIC 3001
Telephone: 1300 735 135