Public interest disclosure (whistleblowing)
Public officials (disclosers) who suspect wrongdoing within the Commonwealth public sector can raise their concerns under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act).
Allegations made under the PID Act are public interest disclosures (PID).
All Australian Government agencies, Commonwealth companies and public authorities have responsibilities under the PID Act to:
- investigate suspected wrongdoing
- take appropriate action.
Conduct which may be the subject of a PID includes, but is not limited to:
- a contravention of the law
- perverting the course of justice
- an abuse of public trust
- falsifying scientific research
- wastage of public money, or
- conduct that is a danger to health, safety or the environment.
The PID Act offers protection to disclosers (‘whistleblowers’) and witnesses from reprisal action. We have released a guide for agencies to use in assessing and managing the risk of reprisal. The guide will be available soon [content to be updated – Assessing and Managing the Risk of Reprisal].
We have a key role in:
- overseeing and reporting on the operation of the PID Scheme
- promoting awareness and understanding of the PID Act
- providing information to disclosers and agencies
- receiving and investigating complaints about the handling of public interest disclosures.
Who can make a PID?
A current or former public official can make a disclosure. This includes:
- public servants (ongoing, non-ongoing and casual)
- parliamentary service employees
- service providers under a Commonwealth contract
- statutory office holders
- staff of Commonwealth companies
- temporary employees engaged through a recruitment agency.
A public official also includes any other person deemed by the authorised officer to be a public official for the purposes of the PID Act.
Additional information and resources for disclosers will be available soon [content to be updated – A guide to making a disclosure].
How to make a PID?
An authorised officer can accept a PID about their agency from officials who belong to it. Australian Government agencies appoint public officials as authorised officers.
Under the PID Act, authorised officers have responsibility for:
- allocating PIDs.
In the course of their duty, if an authorised officer becomes aware of corrupt conduct that is serious or systemic, they must report the matter to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
You can make a disclosure to an authorised officer at an agency by telephone, in writing (including by email) or in person.
Contact information for authorised officers is usually published on the relevant agency's website. If you are a current public official, you can also make a PID to an authorised officer through your supervisor.
More information about authorised officers will be available soon [content to be updated – Information sheet – The role of Authorised Officers].
Talk to our Office about making a PID
If you are concerned about making a PID to the relevant agency, you can contact us to discuss your options:
- Email: 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'.
- Call our PID Team on 1300 362 072 and follow the relevant prompts.
- Write to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s PID Team at: GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601. Any envelopes or packaging should be marked 'Confidential Agency PID'.
You can view our privacy statement relating to our PID function soon [content to be updated - PID Privacy Statement].