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.
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.
Privacy Statement - Public interest disclosures and the Commonwealth Ombudsman
Ombudsman's report into the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act
The full version of the Ombudsman's 2013-14 Annual Report is available from our Publications and Media page
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.
- Agency guide to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
- Guide to making a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
- PID - About the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
- PID - How to make a public interest disclosure
- PID - Responsibilities of principal officers
- PID - Role of authorised officers
- PID - Roles of the Ombudsman and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
- PID - Frequently asked questions
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:
- Notification of allocation
- Notification of decision not to investigate
- Request for extension of time
PID posters for use by agencies (NEW)
The Commonwealth Ombudsman's office has developed a set of posters for agencies to use as a part of awareness raising and promotion of the PID scheme and how to make a PID.
There are three posters that are available for agencies to download in A2 and A3 size (with crop marks for professional printing) and A4 (without crop marks for regular printing). Space is provided at the bottom of each poster for agencies to include their own information, for example where to locate their PID procedures and how to contact an authorised officer.
|A2 size||Poster design 1||Poster design 2||Poster design 3|
|A3 size||Poster design 1||Poster design 2||Poster design 3|
|A4 size (without crop marks)||Poster design 1||Poster design 2||Poster design 3|
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:
- GIF ... [large] [medium] [small]
- PNG ... [extra-large] [large] [medium] [small]
- JPG ... [extra-large] [large] [medium] [small]
- EPS ... [extra-large]
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.
- Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT Division webcasted seminar Tuesday 29 July 2014 - Commonwealth Public Interest Disclosure Scheme: Observations at the six month mark.
- The Commonwealth Public Interest Disclosure Scheme - various forums May 2014
- Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT Division seminar 22 October 2013 - Public Interest Disclosure: Strengthening Integrity.
Community of practice roundtable meetings - to be advised
The Commonwealth Ombudsman's office has already hosted a number of successful PID Community of Practice Roundtable meetings in 2014/15:
- Sydney on 21 August 2014
- Canberra (two) on 3 and 4 September 2014
- Melbourne 7 November 2014
- Sydney 28 November 2014
- Brisbane 1 December 2014
- Perth 12 March 2015
The Ombudsman's office will be holding community of practice roundtables in other capital cities. Details will be published on the Ombudsman's website closer to the date.
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.