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Public Interest Disclosure

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 

On 5 March 2019, the Victorian Parliament passed new legislation which made changes to Victoria’s integrity system. The new legislation introduces some changes to the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 to support people making disclosures which are in the public interest.  On 1 January 2020, these changes replaced existing `Protected Disclosure’ arrangements with `Public Interest Disclosures’.

Key changes to the legislation 

The new legislation aims to improve access for those making public interest disclosures. The key changes to the act include:

  1. Protected Disclosure Act 2012 renamed the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012

  2. Protected disclosure and protected disclosure complaints have been replaced with Public Interest Disclosure (PIDs) and public interest disclosure complaint.

  3. The definition of ‘improper conduct’ has been revised to specify the following categories:

  • corrupt conduct

  • criminal offence

  • serious professional misconduct

  • dishonest performance of public functions

  • intentional or reckless breach of public trust

  • intentional or reckless misuse of information • substantial mismanagement of public resources

  • substantial risk to health or safety of a person

  • substantial risk to the environment

  • conduct of any person that adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer of their functions

  • conduct of any person that is intended to adversely affect the effective performance by a public officer of their functions for the benefit of the other person

  • less serious or trivial conduct is excluded from the definition of improper conduct.

  4. The Integrity and Oversight Committee can also asses and determine if public interest disclosures meet the criteria to be a public interest complaint.

  5. The new legislation extends the investigation of public interest complaints to include the Chief Municipal Inspector, the Information Commissioner and Racing Integrity Commissioner.

  6. Misdirected disclosure allows for PIDs made to the wrong entity to be redirected to the correct entity without losing the protections under the Act.

  7. Detrimental action - the defence test threshold for proving detrimental action has taken place - has been lowered.

  8. Confidentiality obligations have been revised

What is a Public Interest Disclosure? 

Public Interest Disclosure is disclosure by a `natural person’ of information that shows / tends to show or information that the person reasonably believes shows / tends to show improper conduct or detrimental action (previously a protected disclosure).

What is a Public Interest Complaint? 

A public interest disclosure that has been determined by IBAC, the Victorian Inspectorate or Integrity and Oversight Committee to be a Public Interest Complaint (previously a protected disclosure complaint).

What legal protections do disclosers receive? 

If your complaint is assessed as a public interest disclosure:

  • IBAC will never publicise your name

  • you and your family, friends and colleagues will be protected from being fired or bullied for making a complaint

  • you will receive protection from defamation and detrimental action in reprisal for making a public interest disclosure

  • you will receive immunity from:

    • civil or criminal liability as well as administrative action (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure

    • committing an offence under the Constitution Act 1975 (Vic) or any other Act that imposes obligations of confidentiality or otherwise restricts the disclosure of information

    • breaching any other obligation (made by oath or rule of law or practice) requiring the maintenance of confidentiality or otherwise restricting the disclosure of information.

ESTA's commitment to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012? 

ESTA is committed to the aims and objectives of the Act. It does not tolerate improper conduct by its employees, officers or members, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.

How to make a Public Interest Disclosure

ESTA is not an entity prescribed under the Act to receive Public Interest Disclosures.  Disclosures about ESTA, its employees, officers or members should be made directly to the Independent Broad Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC).

Address:  IBAC, GPO BOX 24234, Melbourne, Victoria 3001

Phone:  1300 735 135

Web:   https://www.ibac.vic.gov.au

Additional information 

For more information and guidance on the Act please refer to the IBAC website https://www.ibac.vic.gov.au/reporting-corruption/public-interest-disclosures/changes-to-protected-disclosure-legislation

Address:  IBAC, GPO Box 24234, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001
Web: http://www.ibac.vic.gov.au
Phone: 1300 735 135

ESTA’s Public Interest Disclosure procedures

In accordance with section 58 of the Act, ESTA has prepared written procedures for the protection of persons making disclosures from detrimental actions by any employee, officer or member of ESTA.