What is a Protected Disclosure?
In certain circumstances a complaint of corrupt conduct by a public officer or body, including police, will be a protected disclosure. Complaints about members of the public improperly influencing an officer to engage in corrupt conduct can also be the subject of a protected disclosure.
The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act), enables people to make disclosures about corrupt 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 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 resulting from a 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.
Misconduct in public office
Misconduct in public office is a common law office broadly defined. It can be any conduct by a public sector employee which is unlawful or fails to meet the ethical or professional standards required in the performance of duties or the exercise of powers entrusted to them.
How is a Protected Disclosure handled?
If you submit your complaint to DELWP, we will assess it against the criteria provided by the 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.
Please find attached a fact sheet about how DELWP manages protected disclosures: Protected Disclosure Management in DELWP (PDF, 106.7 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 may assign a Welfare Manager to a discloser once the disclosure is assessed as a protected disclosure. The Welfare Manager will provide advice and support.
It is in your best interests to keep your disclosure confidential to minimise your risk of detrimental action such as discrimination or other adverse treatment. Only discuss it and related matters with authorised persons in DELWP such as the Protected Disclosure Coordinator, Protected Disclosure Officer or the Welfare Manager.
How do I make a Protected Disclosure?
Any person can make a disclosure of serious improper conduct about DELWP or its employees. You may remain anonymous if you wish.
Write in an envelope marked “Private and Confidential for Addressee Only” to:
Protected Disclosure Coordinator
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
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