Page Heading: Public Interest Disclsoures

A scheme to encourage public officials to report suspected wrongdoing in the Australian public sector was put in place by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act), which came into effect on 15 January 2014.

All Australian Government agencies, Commonwealth companies and public authorities have responsibilities under the Act. These include establishing effective and clearly articulated internal procedures for facilitating and responding to public interest disclosures.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is responsible for promoting awareness and understanding of the PID Act, and monitoring and reporting on its operation to parliament. We provide general information, guidance to agencies about their management of the PID scheme, and advice to people who are thinking about making a disclosure of wrongdoing.


Legislation

Guides

Aimed at facilitating consistent application of the legislation across the public sector, the guides and information sheets explain the PID system, set out the statutory obligations of agencies and suggest best practice for handling both allocation and investigation of public interest disclosures.

Information sheets

Forms for agencies

PID legislation requires that agencies notify the Ombudsman of an allocation of a disclosure, or of a decision not to investigate a disclosure. Where necessary, agencies are also obliged to request an extension of time to carry out a PID investigation. Forms are provided to facilitate these notifications and requests:

Use of the Ombudsman's PID logo

To expedite access to agencies' PID policies and procedures, a universal, easily identifiable PID scheme logo has been designed for use on internal and external websites. For agencies wishing to download and use the logo, the graphics are available in various formats:

Making a public interest disclosure to the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is able to receive public interest disclosures (PIDs) about both the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and, under certain conditions, about other Australian Government agencies. For effective handling of PIDs made to the Ombudsman, it is important to identify as early as possible whether the disclosure is about the Ombudsman's office or another agency.

Public officials wishing to make a PID about the Ombudsman's office should follow the process outlined at Public Interest Disclosures About Us.

While suspected wrongdoings should generally be disclosed to authorised officers (or through the discloser's supervisor) within the agency concerned, a PID about another agency may be made directly to the Ombudsman - or to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) where a matter involves an intelligence agency. A public official wanting to make such a disclosure needs to demonstrate, on reasonable grounds, that it would be appropriate for their information to be investigated by the Ombudsman. Disclosures to the Ombudsman may be made by:

  • Writing to the Commonwealth Ombudsman PID Team at GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601. Any envelopes or packaging should be marked 'Confidential'Agency PID'; or
  • Emailing the Ombudsman at PID@ombudsman.gov.au. The subject line should indicate which agency the disclosure is about - this could be as simple as 'PID about Department of XYZ'; or
  • Telephoning the Ombudsman's office on 02 6276 3777 and following the relevant prompts.

Presentations

By arrangement with individual or groups of agencies, this office conducts information sessions about the PID Act. These sessions generally cover the main features of the PID scheme and the responsibilities of agencies under the Act, and can be tailored to the needs of the particular audience.

Upcoming events

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), ACT Division will be hosting a seminar, 'Public Interest Disclosure - Observations at the six month mark', on Tuesday 29 July 2014 at 9:30 am at the 50 MC Theatre, 50 Marcus Clarke st, Civic.

The seminar will provide an insight (from the Ombudsman's office as well as two agencies) into how agencies are progressing the implementation of the public interest disclosure scheme, including how they are meeting their legislative obligations and managing disclosures made by public officials. The seminar will also provide an opportunity to discuss any issues or challenges agencies and public officials are facing in implementing or utilising the public interest disclosure scheme.

The speakers will include:

  • Mr George Masri, Senior Assistant Ombudsman, Social Services, Indigenous and Public Interest Disclosure, Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • Ms Elizabeth Hampton, National Manager Integrity and Professional Standards, Special Integrity Adviser, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
  • Dr Nick Rayns, Executive Manager Fisheries, Australian Fisheries Management Authority

We encourage you to share this invitation with contacts within your agency and contracted service providers who have an interest in the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. Seating is limited, so be sure to register early. The seminar will also be live streamed to enable those interstate or those unable to attend to also view the presentations and to contribute to discussion.

More information about the seminar and how to register can be found on: www.act.ipaa.org.au/index.php?option=com_eventbooking&task=view_event&event_id=146&Itemid=146.

Contact details

For further information or assistance relating to the PID scheme, or to arrange a PID presentation, please contact the PID Team on 02 6276 3777 or email PID@ombudsman.gov.au.